A man has been sent to prison for four months after 16 horses, ponies and a donkey were found emaciated. His son also admitted to 13 welfare charges.

David Bickell, 45, and William Bickell, 17, were sentenced at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court, Norfolk, yesterday (Thursday 2 October).

David Bickell admitted 14 charges and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment — the maximum term the judge could award — in light of the guilty plea.

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One horse (Dibble) as he was found on the day of his rescue

The judge said David Bickell was “not fit to be anywhere near animals” – having previously been convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a mare in 2011. He was also disqualified from keeping all animals for 15 years, which he is not permitted to appeal for 10 years.

William Bickell admitted 13 charges and was ordered to pay £85 costs, plus a £15 surcharge, and given a six-month referral to the Youth Offending Team.

Norfolk Trading Standards and the RSPCA brought a joint prosecution against the pair following a call from a concerned member of the public to World Horse Welfare in mid-December 2013.

World Horse Welfare’s field officer Jacko Jackson, who visited the site said: “The condition these animals were found in was truly terrible. One colt in particular, a piebald yearling named Eric, stands out in my mind: Even through his winter coat you could see that he was emaciated, with a body condition score of just zero. Eric was very quiet and weak, stumbling in walk, and sadly had to be put to sleep for welfare reasons.”

Dibble after care from World Horse Welfare

Dibble after care from World Horse Welfare

A further nine ponies belonging to David and William Bickell were removed from several different sites in north Norfolk and taken into World Horse Welfare’s care following visits.

“This prosecution is the culmination of a lot of hard work from all the agencies involved,” said Mr Jackson.

“Although three of the ponies in this case have either been put to sleep for welfare reasons or passed away, one mare has already made such a great recovery and has successfully been rehomed. The other nine continue to thrive.”