The RSPCA called it one of the worst cases they’ve ever seen: 25 horses starved and neglected, with one of them dead. Somehow, the owner avoided jail.
Amanda Thorne – from Bodmin, Cornwall – was handed a suspended sentence and banned from keeping equines for life after her treatment of the animals.
Judges said the 41-year-old mother-of-two showed no remorse for what happened, despite a long-standing RSPCA investigator calling it the ‘cruellest’ neglect they had ever witnessed.
The RSPCA were only alerted to the ‘dreadful’ conditions after concerned neighbours in rural Cornwall raised the alarm, Plymouth Magistrates’ Court heard.
District Judge Diana Baker said:
The horses were starving to death, they were not being treated for their ailments. Their hooves were not being trimmed. They were in a pitiful state.
You have shown no remorse for what happened and you blamed others. Concerned members of the public brought this matter to to the attention of the RSPCA. One of the experts said that this could have been a whole lot worse if they had not brought the matter to their attention.
The horses were missing basic amenities, such as clean housing, decent food, fresh drinking water, a dry lying area, adequate exercise or parasitic control.
Of the 25, eight horses had overgrown hooves and four were malnourished. One was in need of serious veterinary care for a foot abscess, rain scald, lymphangitis, cellulitis and wounds. After one horse tragically died, the rest were taken to safety by the NSPCA.
At first, Judge Baker was going to send Thorne to jail – however, she then decided to suspend her six-month term for 12 months.
Judge Baker added:
I have given you a chance, I have given your children a chance and your parents a chance. If you breach any part of the order your feet will not touch the ground.
The sentence dictates Thorne must complete 15 days of her probation’s Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, and pay £15,000 towards the RSPCA’s costs. She also has to wear an electronic tag as part of a four-month seven-day-a-week curfew.
Thorne, who brought up two children on the farm while going through a divorce from her husband, while also dealing with her own health difficulties, initially denied the charges. However, she was found guilty by the judge after a trial in her absence last month.
RSPCA inspector Jo Pearson, the lead officer on the case, said:
It is completely the right sentence for this lady. I have been working for the RSPCA as an inspector for 20 years and it is one of the cruellest cases I have ever seen. Without members of the public coming to us with the information, she would never have been brought before the courts today.
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