A woman spotted towing her horse behind the van she was driving down an A road in Cleveland has been convicted of cruelty.

Sharon Lane from Westfield Court, Redcar, was spotted by a police officer driving along the A174 Marske to Redcar road with Rosie, a chestnut mare tethered to the back of her van.

Guisborough magistrates found Ms Lane guilty of animal cruelty and sentenced her to an 18-month conditional discharge and with a fine of £100 to cover RSPCA costs.

PC Paul Robertson told the court that on 29 May last year he saw Ms Lane driving along the A174 with the four-year-old mare following at about 15mph.

“The horse was very distressed and looked like it was trying to get alongside the van,” he said.

“I could hear the horse whinnying from my car, it appeared quite petrified. It didn’t take a genius or horse expert to tell this animal was in distress.”

Ms Lane then drove to a sports club where she tied Rosie to a nearby electricity sub-station and left her there.

Several people called the RSPCA to report the apparent abandonment of a distressed horse and shortly after midnight an inspector arrived.

The following morning Inspector Laura Glover returned to the scene and questioned Ms Lane about the incident.

The court then heard how Ms Lane had decided to drive Rosie to Redcar because she was too big for the van and there was no horsebox available.

She said, “I don’t think I have been cruel to Rosie, but I now know what I did was wrong.”

Ms Lane also told the court that the reason for Rosie’s distress was that she had just been separated from her foal.

Vet Andrew Barber told the court: “If Ms Lane has caused a problem I don’t think she’s done it knowingly or willingly. Stupid naivete may be nearer the point.”

Afterthe case Inspector Laura Glover said: “It must have been incredibly distressing for the horse to have been tethered behind a moving vehicle. This action not only caused the horse to suffer, but also displayed an utter lack of consideration for the welfare of the animal.”

“It should never have happened and it beggars belief that it did in fact take place. I am delighted that Lane was found guilty of this charge.”