Two people from Portsmouth have been sentenced following a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.
Robin Jefferies (date of birth: 30/5/1968) and Pauline Vinall (date of birth: 22/5/1987), both of Dormington Road, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth were found guilty of 13 animal welfare offences relating to horses at trial in February.
Mr Jefferies was given a suspended 22-week custodial sentence and a lifetime ban from keeping equines, which he can not appeal for ten years. He must also pay £1,475 in costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
Miss Vinall was banned from keeping horses for seven years and given a conditional discharge and fined £20 when the pair appeared for sentencing at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on Monday 23 April 2018.
The animal welfare charity helped nine horses owned by the pair to safety – including a young horse who was so weak she could not stand unaided for two weeks following her rescue – after they were discovered suffering and without their needs being met on a farm in Denmead, Hampshire.
Chief inspector Jen Ride, who investigated the case, said: “The defendants in this case, Robin Jefferies and Pauline Vinall, are a classic example of why the UK is in the grips of an equine welfare crisis. The lengthy trial saw the RSPCA work extremely hard to bring a successful prosecution against a person who was already in receipt of a lifetime equine ban from 2014, and his long-term partner who knew he was banned.
“Jefferies flouted his court order which lead to further suffering and neglect of horses under his control and care. Miss Vinall also failed to understand the needs of the horses and was unable to concede that vet treatment was urgently needed.
“Many of the horses seen at Anmore Road were in foal and all those removed were suffering from red worm. The farm had extreme grazing issues where the paddocks were highly contaminated with faeces, fencing which consisted of slack barb wire, baler twine and even areas where a ladder was used to stop the horses escaping.
“The horses were seen hunting for food, pulling up mouldy mud-soaked hay remnants from the ground and when the RSPCA provided water the horses gulped it down in desperation. The stables were urine-soaked and all the horses lacked appropriate foot care.
“It seems unplanned pregnancies and low quality youngstock were churned out from the yard which had such a high turnover, Jefferies and Vinall couldn’t account for numbers. The pair blamed a male acquaintance for ‘dumping horses at their doorstep that were in terrible condition’ but went on to explain that they would pay £100 upwards per horse.
“Miss Vinall insisted that they made no money from the horses, that they ‘got better’ and were sold on and rehomed, but the prosecutor disagreed and said they were effectively dealing in horses, and took the attitude of ‘they would either survive or they wouldn’t’.
“The horses are now well on the road to recovery but the veterinary intervention to get them to this point has been massive. One horse in particular, Bambi (pictured and featured in the video clip) had to be continually lifted for the first two weeks as she was too weak to support herself.
“It’s terrifying to think what would have happened if we hadn’t been alerted to this farm. It’s great to see how the horses’ lives have been transformed since their rescue.. We are also grateful to World Horse Welfare for their assistance during the case with field officers and the provision of fencing.”