A horse dealer and his son who allowed horses to starve on their farm have both been given jail sentences at Coleraine Crown Crown today (Tuesday 2 December).

Outside at farmRobert McAleenan, 55 and his 28 year-old son Conor were also banned from keeping horses for 25 years on 17 animal cruelty offences.

Conor was sentenced to 22 months, and will serve seven in prison, while his father, Robert, was given 20 months’ and will serve 4.5 months in prison.

The judge also issued a deprivation order so all the animals can now be signed over into the permanent care of the charities who rescued them.

The McAleenan’s had pleaded guilty to the charges bought by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) following a rescue case in November 2011 involving 66 horses and donkeys on their farm (pictured above left and below right) in Co. Antrim and a separate site nearby.

The horses had been left without food or water and were suffering with worm infestations, overgrown hooves and some had strangles.

Cobs at farmPSNI sergeant Allison Liddle said: “This was one of the most harrowing things I have ever seen both as a police officer and an animal lover.”

Some of the horses were so weak they had to be put down, which said Sergeant Liddle, was “heart-breaking for everyone who was involved in the case.”

A team effort by Redwings Horse Sanctuary, the Donkey Sanctuary and Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary rescued the horses.

Best Breakfast Club after at Redwings 2After several days in a holding yard, 23 of the animals were transported to Redwings HQ in Norfolk.

Redwings’ welfare vet Nicola Berryman said the suffering inflicted on the equines “was as severe as it is possible to encounter.”

She said Robert and Conor McAleenan failed to address the horses’ basic health and husbandry requirements and “allowed several of the animals to suffer profoundly”.

The group rescued by Redwings, all mainly youngsters, have made a full recovery (pictured above left and below right) and have been named after breakfast foods including, Jam, Museli, Benedict, Waffle and Croissant.

One of the cobs, Marmite, has become the poster boy for the charity’s strangles Toast afterawareness campaign after arriving at the farm with the disease.

Four of the Shetlands that went to the Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary in Northern Ireland, have just moved to their new homes.

Of the 10 donkeys that were rescued seven have made a full recovery at the Donkey Sanctuary’s farms in Devon, with two of them going to new foster homes in Surrey.

“The Donkey Sanctuary welcomes the serious sentence given to this father and son which reflects the extreme suffering they inflicted on their animals,” said Michael Crane, the charity’s head of welfare.

“Our advisors were shocked and appalled to find emaciated donkeys living in squalor without food or water, fighting for survival with other neglected donkeys and ponies and alongside the carcasses of dead animals.”