Farmer jailed for horse neglect

Thomas Parker
Thomas Parker

A PENSIONER who neglected his horse to the point it became so thin it collapsed and had to be put to sleep has been jailed for four months.

Farmer Thomas Parker was locked up after he repeatedly failed to get a vet to look at his emaciated horse Rupert.

An RSPCA inspector said it was the thinnest he had ever seen.

Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court was told the horse’s teeth were in such a bad state it could not eat comfortably and had pressure sores.

Parker, 72, who previously pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by failing to seek veterinary care between July 22 and September 22 last year, twice failed to overturn his guilty plea after his own vet’s reports appeared to cast doubt on prosecution claims the horse had starved.

Parker had been urged to get a vet by RSPCA officials in 2009 when it was described as being in a “poor condition”, with its pelvis, ribs and spine noticeable.

John Ellwood, prosecuting, said: “The point is that this horse was allowed to deteriorate to that extent without the defendant seeking veterinary help.

“This defendant has on two and probably three occasions received advice that he should take this horse to a vet and he failed to heed that advice.”

The horse was discovered by workmen in a barn at Parker’s Green Farm in Wolviston.

It was seized by police and the RSPCA and taken away.

But within a couple of days the animal collapsed and had to be put to sleep.

John Nixon, mitigating, said at 30 the horse had reached the end of its life expectancy.

He said: “He did not neglect the day to day welfare of the animal.

“It was fed, he was walked each day and taking grass and food.

“He had cared so well for this animal over the years.

“He is a good man. People speak very highly of him.”

Parker, of The Green, Wolviston, was also banned from keeping or caring for animals for life.

In 2005, he was fined by magistrates for failing to remove three cattle carcases from farmland.

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Kate Brown said: “We have assessed this as being prolonged neglect.

“The aggravating features are that you ignored advice and warnings and your previous conviction.”

Angus Dowson of the charity World Horse Welfare welcomed the punishment.

He said: “This was a case of wanton neglect over a period of time when the defendant had opportunities to improve the life of his horse.”