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A fallen stock collector and knackerman has been found guilty of misleading a customer whose horse he had been asked to cremate.

Farmer David Nutt, from Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire, was found guilty at Amersham Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 15 August, in a case brought by Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Trading Standards Services.

Angie Murphy, of Henley-on-Thames, agreed to pay Nutt £650 to have her 28-year-old mare Puzzle cremated and the ashes returned. But Angie’s suspicions were aroused when the casket returned was far smaller than expected. Tests revealed that the remains presented to Angie contained dog, horse and bovine remains and were not of sufficient volume to be a horse.

“It was a tiny little casket that would not hold a Yorkshire terrier,” she said. “I had Puzzle for 21 years and she was very special, so it’s sad I don’t know what happened to her.”

Nutt was found guilty under the Trades Descriptions Act 1968 of misleading Angie about the service he offered and also of moving a horse carcass without completing a commercial document for the transport of animal by-products.

The court fined Nutt £3,250 for seven offences — three for this case and four involving the submission of two cows for slaughter that were not the animals described on the cattle passport document.

Gina Green of Buckinghamshire Trading Standards said: “We are pleased that the court recognised that Mr Nutt showed scant regard for the feelings of the horse owner as well as his obligations as a trader.”

A trading standards spokeswoman said that although Nutt was not a member of the national fallen stock company register, he could legally collect animals under rules allowing farmers to take stock to hunt kennels.

Lee Hackett of the British Horse Society welfare department said cases like this are unusual, but the society does advise owners to prepare themselves for the inevitable.

“Even if your horse is young and well, accidents happen, so we suggest you prepare in advance for when the time comes,” he said. “Talk to your vet or go and look at premises, don’t leave it until you are faced with making a rush decision.”

More information about equine cremations

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (6 September, ’07)