An ex-police officer has been handed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting six counts of fraud relating to the sale of dangerous horses.
Carrie Vinson (pictured), 33, appeared at Gloucester Crown Court last week (Wednesday 21 January), in a case brought by Trading Standards.
Ms Vinson, who was a serving police officer at the time but retired in December 2012, advertised horses on Horsemart and on Facebook site Gloucestershire Horse Riders.
She led potential buyers to believe that the horses were hers or that she was selling them on behalf of friends, when in reality the horses had been sent from Ireland by an agent.
The court heard that 33-year-old Ms Vinson knowingly sold horses that had previously behaved dangerously, advertising one of them as “perfectly mannered” and “having no vices”.
“The unsuspecting buyers and those riding these horses could well have been seriously injured, and we need to get the message out there to people that this is not something we are prepared to tolerate,” said Cllr Will Windsor Clive, the cabinet member responsible for trading standards.
In one case the daughter of a buyer had been put in danger when the horse, Fly, began rearing and spinning. The family put a claim in the small claims court against Ms Vinson.
She subsequently provided documentation to the civil court, which included information that was “fabricated” and “untruthful”.
In another incident Ms Vinson asked another person to sell a horse on her behalf. The horse had previously thrown Ms Vinson herself, breaking her collarbone.
The horse was advertised as “having never put a hoof wrong” and was sold to an unsuspecting buyer who subsequently found the horse to be too dangerous to ride.
The court heard that Ms Vinson claimed to be a private seller, going to great lengths to hide the fact she was a dealer and denying buyers their rights.
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On 21 January she was ordered to pay £2,000 to two of her victims, and to contribute £10,000 towards prosecution costs.
The judge also imposed a “prohibited steps order”, meaning she can only sell horses in her own name in future.
Judge Jamie Tabor said the gravity of the case was not about the money, but that Ms Vinson had sold horses she “knew could be dangerous, and people were at risk of injury”.
Eddie Coventry, head of trading standards at Gloucestershire County Council said: “The risk posed to the public from Miss Vinson’s activities and her lack of concern for the safety of others is quite astonishing.
“I hope that this sentence sends a clear message to others who may be tempted to wrongly describe horses for their own financial gain.”