A horse dealer has been banned from keeping horses for 10 years after an RSPCA inspector discovered two starving Thoroughbreds at Kevin O’Brien’s White Oak Stables in Harvel. Kent.

Mr O’Brien, 55, of Lavidge Road, Eltham, was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to the horses in December. The case was adjourned for sentencing at Dartford Magistrates Court until last week.

As well as the 10-year ban, O’Brien was ordered to pay £1,400 towards RSPCA costs and carry out 180 hours of community punishment. He will also be electronically tagged and ordered to observe an 8pm to 6am curfew for the next two months.

The court heard how RSPCA chief inspector Steve Dockery arrived at O’Brien’s yard in David Street, Harvel, in April 2001 following a call from a concerned member of the public.

He found two emaciated horses covered in rain scald housed at the back of a stable block.

Chief inspector Dockery said: “They were skin and bone, standing knee-deep in dung – I have never seen horses in such a poor condition.”

O’Brien who pleaded not guilty throughout the trial, claimed he had swapped the horses for a car with a mystery man. O’Brien said he didn’t realise the severity of the condition of the horses because they were wearing rugs.

The two 13-year-old geldings, Spot, a 16hh bay and Smiler, a 16.1hh chesnut (pictured above), have since made a full recovery and have been re-homed.