Three men guilty of animal cruelty

THREE men face being banned from keeping horses after they were found guilty of cruelty charges.

A total of 15 animals were discovered living in “extremely poor living conditions”, according to RSPCA inspectors, who found some of the horses ankle deep in a slurry of manure and straw at a yard at Walton Highway.

Their feed of carrots were trampled into the slurry, making them inedible and only foul water was available to drink.

Some horses were emaciated and one creature was in such a starved state it was put down two weeks after being rescued.

Unemployed John Taylor jnr (23), of Blunts Drove, Walton Highway, was found guilty of 14 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a horse on February 3 last year.

He was also found guilty of five charges of failing to ensure animal welfare by housing horses in a dirty and wet environment with no dry lying area or clean water.

His father, riding stables owner John Taylor snr (47), of Wisbech Road, Outwell was found guilty of the same charges.

Unemployed Charlie Swallow (23), of Churchfield Road, Outwell, was found guilty of 10 charges of causing unnecessary suffering and three charges of failing to ensure animal welfare.

All three men pleaded not guilty. Their case was adjourned until March 9 for sentencing.

Judge Peter Veits said he was considering a community service order and a period of disqualification.

The financial implications of banning Taylor snr from keeping horses would be taken into consideration, he said, due to him running a livery yard and riding stables at Upwell.

RSPCA officers reported how they found horses living in a mixture of a block of run down timber stables, a barn with a leaking roof, a tin DIY construction and two lorry containers.

Nails stuck out from the walls in one container and in another, a permanent barrier had been put across to prevent the horse from roaming freely.

A lame foal, whose mother had died, was left to wander around the yard that was littered with shards of metal, glass and timber. It had prominent bones from emaciation and an untreated weeping laceration on its head.

The foal collapsed under examination, according to a report from vet Emma Willoughby.

Five horses were in such a poor state of lice infestation, alopecia and sores they were immediately taken into the care of the RSPCA where, within six months, and a cost of more than £10,000 in veterinary bills, they were now thriving.

A further ten were allowed to remain in the care of Taylor snr, provided they were transferred to his stables at Upwell, where RSPCA officers agreed living conditions for horses were good.

RSPCA Prosecutor Jonathan Eales told the court that initially, Taylor snr admitting to owning all 15 horses and that he had the right to shoot them if he wanted to. As time progressed, however, he said he only owned 10 and had lied to protect his family.

His son Taylor jnr admitted to owning one horse while Swallow admitted to owning three horses, including the animal that was put down.

Swallow said he knew the stabling was not up to scratch but thought a couple of weeks on a bit of grass and the horses would have been fine.

Taylor snr said 10 of the horses were only put in the yard the night before after escaping from their field and running loose on the A47.