HORSES in Horton Kirby suffering from wounds and worms were left to waste away by their owners, Dartford Magistrates' Court heard yesterday.

Jamie Brown, aged 22, of Vernon Close, West Kingsdown, and 42-year-old Sharon Cooksley, of Heath Close, Swanley, who both chuckled and commented throughout the trial opening, are accused of causing unnecessary suffering to the animals at Oakview Stud Farm between October and December last year.

The court heard RSPCA inspector Andrew Kirby, who had already made a warning about some of the horses' conditions, arrived for a site visit on December 30 but was threatened by Brown.

He claimed Brown had become "aggressive and attempted to be intimidating" talking about "getting his cousins and his brothers down".

When the inspector returned accompanied by police, the pair were nowhere to be seen, the court heard.

The inspector said of the first horse he saw, which had extensive muscle wasting lesions on its face from a ringworm infection: "The horse was very thin and it was very subdued and quiet."

Another mare's horse was so thin its ribs were showing while the animal's foal was also in a "poor to moderate" body condition and suffering from worms, magistrates heard.

A chestnut male at the site had wounds from the rug it was wearing, ringworm and was believed by a vet to be showing signs of tetanus.

Mr Kirby said there was a lack of grazing, water and shelter on the site, while some fencing was in a poor condition with nails sticking out of it.

Six animals were seized by police, including a Shetland pony who wandered up to the lorry and, it was felt, would not benefit from staying at the site.

Cooksley denies six offences under the Animal Welfare Act, while Brown denies a further eight.

He admitted one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a chestnut mare which had dental abnormalities.

The trial continues.