A Norfolk man has been given a suspended jail sentence and banned from keeping animals after a neglected pony and its foal were found in a secluded barn.

The emaciated mare and foal had been kept in the dark for more than 18 months.

Frederick Stannard, 64, from Methwold near Thetford pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 after two ponies were found in a neglected state in September 2016.

Norwich Magistrates handed Stannard a 12-week prison sentence for each offence, to run concurrently, which is suspended for two years and ordered to pay £150 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

He was also to a lifetime ban on owning all animals.

The neglected ponies had lice and other parasites and had overgrown hooves. Credit: RSPCA

“We were made aware of these two little ponies, Charlie and Bella, back in September 2016, after a dog walker strayed from the footpath accidentally, and came across the secluded barn. "They were very lucky to have been found in this way, as who knows how much longer they would have gone on suffering, undiscovered, as the barn was in the middle of a 20-acre field, completely isolated."

Chris Nice, RSPCA Inspector

A vet from Redwings Horse Sanctuary was sent in to examine the pony and its 18-month-old foal and found them suffering inside the barn in darkness.

Both ponies were in an extremely poor state, scoring just 0.5 out of 5 for body condition. They were also riddled with lice and other parasites, had extensively overgrown hooves, and were nervous and unhandled.

The ponies have been rehabilitated at Redwings Horse Sanctuary during the past five months and now have a permanent home at the sanctuary.