Get involved: Send pictures, video, news and views - text NEWS SHOPPER to 80360 or email us
Hawley stable hand banned from keeping horses after neglect case
A STABLE hand has been banned from keeping horses for five years after an animal in her care was found so underweight it could hardly stand.
Christine Hawkins, aged 49, of Ash Road in Hawley, cared for chestnut colt Tommy and grey roan colt Yankee Doodle at Forebays stable yard in Eglantine Lane, Horton Kirby.
She pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and one charge of failing to ensure animal welfare at Dartford Magistrates Court today (October 15).
When the RSPCA examined the horses they found them underweight and suffering from louse infestations.
Prosecutor Rex Bryant said: "Tommy was found to be emaciated with extensive muscle wasting and was unsteady on his feet.
"He was recumbent and needed to be lifted on to his feet and had extensive worm and louse infestation."
Yankee Doodle was found with similar muscle wasting, was verging on emaciated and had a harsh dry cough.
Mr Bryant described the horse’s stables as “run down but serviceable” and added the paddock nearest the stables was liquid mud when the RSPCA inspected.
He said Tommy had been suffering in this way for a month while Yankee Doodle had been neglected for at least two weeks.
Kieran Brand, defending mother-of-two Hawkins, said she started to feed Tommy in November 2011 when his owner stopped visiting him.
She claimed she started to care for Yankee Doodle when his owner fell ill and could no longer care for him.
Mr Brand said: "This is a lady who was doing her best but I suspect as a result of circumstances at the time, was struggling.
“This is not a lady whose presence around horses causes any detriment to them.
“She does her best by them and was perhaps unlucky.”
“Horses are and have always been her life."
On sentencing District Judge Michael Kelly said: “It seems to me that you should never have assumed responsibility for the horses when you clearly didn’t have the resources or finance to care for them properly.
“Even for someone like me who has no experience in caring for horses, both were visibly underfed.
“There was a remarkable transformation when they were properly fed and cared for.”
Hawkins, who first owned horses at the age of 14, was ordered to complete 40 hours unpaid work and disqualified her from owning, keeping and participating in the keeping of horses for five years.
She must also pay £2,000 towards the £14,000 paid by the RSPCA for legal, vets and investigation costs.
Speaking after the sentencing, RSPCA inspector Liz Wheeler said: “It’s nice to know the court takes seriously the severity of this case.
“Tommy was close to death when he came in - it was touch and go whether he would survive.
“If you can’t look after horses you shouldn’t be keeping them.”