Jail threat for Hartlepool man who let his horse die of hunger

Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.
Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.

A MAN has been warned that he could potentially be jailed for allowing a horse to starve to death.

Jeffrey Haswell failed to properly care for the bay horse, named Thunder, which led to its eventual collapse on a field on the Oakesway Industrial Estate, Hartlepool, where it was tethered.

Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard the RSPCA and vets were called to help the tragic animal but it was decided that there was nothing more they could do for it and it was put to sleep where it lay.

The jobless 40-year-old pleaded guilty to causing the unnecessary suffering of an animal, and failing to take adequate steps to ensure its need for an adequate diet, between March 15 and March 30.

Prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, Stewart Haywood said: “The pony was left in a dreadful condition and he eventually collapsed in full view of the general public on March 13.

“A vet attended and attempted to get Thunder to his feet but unfortunately he was too weak to do so.

“He wasn’t fit for travel either and the vet had no option but to recommend euthanasia of the animal.”

The court heard that Thunder was tethered on the grassed area along with a number of other horses, without any shelter and with poor grazing.

The animal, which was in a severely emaciated state, did have water and hay though, justices were told.

Tests showed he was suffering a “heavy worm burden”, so the food he was given by his owner was not enough.

Mr Haywood said: “While the defendant said he appreciated that horses needed worming and veterinary treatment, he said he couldn’t afford it. He said he knew lots of people who ‘didn’t bother’ with vets.

“Incredibly, he said he thought Thunder was filling out while in his care.”

Mitigating, Barry Gray said Haswell, of Bruce Crescent, Hartlepool, bought the pony for his 11-year-old daughter from a man in Port Clarence and had owned him for five weeks.

He said: “He looked after the horse as his level of skill and expertise allowed. At no stage did he fail to visit the horse, it was visited two or three times a day.”

Chairman of magistrates Stephen Hall adjourned sentencing until the Probation Service have carried out a pre-sentence report.

He warned Haswell that he was not ruling out custody and after looking at photgraphs of the horse said: “I’m no expert in horses but I can look at these photographs and determine that this horse needed help.”

Haswell was released from the court and ordered to return for sentencing on August 6.