A man accused of causing suffering to horses tried postpone his trial because his wife grew up with 'big fat' gypsy twins who hanged themselves in Sevenoaks.

The brothers, who were both tree surgeons, were found hanging side-by-side in woodland down on a country lane on December 28.

Samuel Powell - whose wife was a first cousin to the twins - appeared in court charged with five counts of causing unnecessary harm or suffering to horses in his care, which he denies.

His lawyer, Richard Hawgood, had petitioned the court to postpone the case, arguing that Powell, 34, was "not in the right frame of mind" to face a trial - because the tragedy had left him too emotionally disturbed.

Powell's wife, who is also a traveller, had been raised together with the twins by their grandmother and, since the tragedy, has reportedly been with the elderly woman constantly to offer comfort, leaving Powell to look after the couple's four young kids.

Mr Hawgood said that the twins' bodies were due to be released from the mortuary today following a post-mortem, and that Powell was expected to escort the bodies home.

He added: "In the traveller community there is a tradition of holding a vigil ahead of a burial, rather than a wake afterwards."

Medway magistrates took over an hour to consider the request, but on returning to the courtroom the chairman of the bench, Stephen Blackhurst, ruled there would be no adjournment.

He said they had taken into account that the trial had already been postponed once, from a date in October, and that witnesses had been summoned ready to give evidence, adding that it was not in the interests of justice to adjourn again.

Powell, who denied all the charges, was in the dock with two other men - brothers Danny and Jimmy Price, who also faced charges in relation to causing suffering to horses - and in the latter's case to two dogs too.

The cases were being heard together because they arose from the same RSPCA visits, but the charges related to different animals and each man was individually represented.

Danny Price, 29, pleaded guilty to one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a bay horse.

In return a second charge of causing suffering to a bay mare, a black mare and a piebald mare, was dropped. He is due to be sentenced after the conclusion of the two other men's trial.

Jimmy Price, 25, is accused of causing unnecessary suffering to a skewbald trotter gelding and also to a Lurcher-type dog known as Scout and a Saluki-type dog known as Tramp.

His solicitor Stacey Holland said he would not dispute that suffering had been caused to the animals, but planned to argue that they did not belong to him and he was not responsible for them.

At the end of this hearing, Jimmy Price will also be sentenced for four convictions in relation to the killing of a deer and hares, from a trial held in December.

The trial continues.