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'Worst ever' horse cruelty trial begins
Posted 9 December 2008
The trial has begun of horse dealer James Gray, following the discovery in January of appalling scenes of equine death and suffering at his farm in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.
The magistrates’ court at Bicester heard today (December 9) how RSPCA officers removed more than 100 horses and donkeys from Spindles Farm. Many were emaciated, filthy and too weak to stand. Some were penned with the rotting remains of other animals. There were mounds of skulls, bones and hooves. Four animals were so sick, the court heard, they had to be euthanased on the spot. Among them was a mare suffering from extreme emaciation, chronic diarrhoea and a severe eye infection. Vets and RPCA officers on the scene described it as the worst case of animal cruelty they had ever witnessed.
Also on trial are Gray’s wife Julie, 41; daughters Jodie, 26, and Cordelia, 20; and a teenage boy who cannot be named for legal reasons. They face a total of 12 charges of causing neglect and unnecessary suffering to the animals under the Animal Welfare Act.
Gray is reported to have paid as little as £1 for equines destined to be slaughtered and their meat sold abroad. Animal Aid’s exclusive undercover footage taken at Potter’s Abattoir, Somerset, in September 2007, graphically reveals the fate of horses and ponies earmarked for slaughter.
The fundamental problem at the heart of the horse slaughter scandal that we uncovered is that these animals are bred to excess. When they are no longer useful, they are often simply disposed of. This is the fate of thousands of healthy horses and ponies every year.