Barnstaple Man banned from keeping horses for life after 'most harrowing' case of animal cruelty

The horse was found collapsed in a muddy field in Landkey. Credit: RSPCA

A man from Barnstaple has been sentenced to 24 weeks immediate custody and banned from keeping horses for life after causing the death of a horse and mistreating three others.

Ben Neill was sentenced yesterday (3 May) at Barnstaple Magistrates’ Court for causing unnecessary suffering to a horse and a pony and failing to meet the needs of three others.

Neill's case was brought to the attention of the court after a passer-by saw a collapsed horse in a muddy field in Landkey.

They alerted the RSPCA who then called upon their Inspector, Claire Ryder, to launch an investigation into the horse, now known as Eddy.

She said: "His hip-bones were protruding and you could clearly see his spine and ribs.

"The horse was lying in deep wet mud. You could clearly see where he was trying to getup as there was a build up of wet mud around the horse’s head, neck and back."

In her report to court, the vet said she thought Eddy had been down for some time as she was unable to get him up on his feet.

Sadly there was no alternative but to put him to sleep on welfare grounds to end his suffering.

A mare called Darcy was also abused by the man. Credit: RSPCA

A further three ponies - a bay gelding called Tye, a mare called Darcy and another bay gelding called Dorcas - were in a field next to Eddy that was very muddy with limited grazing.

They had no accessible shelter and the only water source was a stream running along the bottom of a steep bank in the corner of their field.

All three ponies were found to have lice in their coats, parasites and their teeth were in a bad way.

They all required sedation before their hooves could be trimmed.

The evidence produced from an examination by a vet concluded that "suffering unquestionably could have been prevented had they sought advice sooner."

When sentencing Neill, magistrates told him he had shown little remorse.

They said: “We have listened to the case from the RSPCA and seen photos of the horse and ponies - Eddy had a ruptured eyeball, was hypothermic in a collapsed state, emaciated and unable to access food and water."

Eddy and Dorcus were put down due to the level of their suffering.

Tye and Darcy were both re-homed and now live with the Hugs Foundation - an equinerescue charity in Bodmin, Cornwall.

They now act as therapy animals to children, the elderly, military personnel and veterans to increase health and well-being.