Spindles Farm update

By: Horse Deals

Spindles Farm update
Spindles Farm update
Horse trader James Gray has lost his appeal against convictions for animal welfare offences.

James Gray, his wife Julie and daughters Jodie and Cordelia Gray were also unsuccessful in their appeals. James Gray Junior (17) was acquitted on two charges, but convicted of the rest.

In a judgement delivered at Aylesbury Crown Court today, Recorder of Aylesbury His Honour Christopher Tyrer said: "We are satisfied that these horses were neglected and starved. It follows that the appellants [James Gray and James Gray Junior] failed to exercise reasonable care and supervision in respect of their protection and they knew or ought reasonably to have known that this would have that effect....

"...We have found that all the appellants were responsible for all these animals and that they knew what was happening on the premises and took no action to alleviate the problems."

Referring to James Gray, he added: "We are satisfied that, at the time [the RSPCA] visited Spindle Farm in January 2008, these animals were not being fed or watered adequately or at all....he sought neither assistance nor veterinary attention to his animals and was still acquiring even more animals from outside, despite being unable to look after them or those he had already brought to the premises."

RSPCA inspector Kirsty Hampton, who investigated the case, said: "We’re pleased the extent of the cruelty, neglect and suffering endured by the animals in this case has been recognised - and also the RSPCA’s hard work and experience, which was crucial in successfully bringing the case to court."

The court case and appeal has so far cost the RSPCA more than £1million, including veterinary treatment and care of the rescued horses. The investigation has been one of the RSPCA’s biggest ever.

World Horse Welfare vet Andy Williamson, Nicolas de Brauwere of Redwings Horse Sanctuary, and vet Peter Green, who all gave evidence for the RSPCA, were praised by the court for their compelling testimony.

The appeal against sentence will be held at 10am on Wednesday 12 May at Aylesbury Crown Court.

The family was prosecuted after RSPCA inspectors discovered more than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys and the bodies of a further 32 equines at Spindle Farm near Amersham between Friday 4 and Wednesday 9 January 2008.

Inspector Hampton described the conditions that the horses were kept in as "grotesque".

She said: "When we arrived at the farm we were confronted with an extremely distressing scene. The stench of decomposition and urine was overpowering. The sight of horses left in such a miserable state will stay with me forever and I hope I never have to see animals treated with such little care and compassion again."

Officers from World Horse Welfare, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, vets and Thames Valley Police worked alongside the RSPCA in very difficult conditions to rescue the surviving animals from the terrible scene.

Many of the animals had little food or dry bedding and were crammed into pens, ankle deep in faeces. Other horses had simply been left to die where they fell and then, surrounded by their companions, decomposed. Further carcasses were discovered in surrounding fields, some burned on bonfires, and there was a pile of bones and a skull against an outbuilding.
Redwings has looked after 21 horses, ponies and donkeys (together with six foals born after the rescue) since January 2008 when they were rescued from Spindle Farm
During 2009 the charity, which relies solely on public donations, took in another 32 from RSPCA boarding yards plus two from another charity making the total at Redwings 61. Among the rescued animals are Esther, a chocolate brown donkey foal who arrived timid and scared and Timothy, another donkey foal born just days after mum Mary’s arrival

Members of the public are invited to contribute towards the work of the RSPCA and the animals in its care. For more information visit www.rspca.org.uk/donate or call 0300 123 0346 and www.redwings.co.uk