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OWNERS of horses that passed through the hands of Derbyshire horse thief Susan Nicholson have criticised her six-month prison sentence as too lenient.

Nicholson, 43, of Scarcliffe, Chesterfield pleaded guilty to four charges of theft, one of fraud, and another of attempting to pervert the course of justice and was sentenced at Derby Crown Court on Friday, 27 June.

The court heard how Nicholson sold horses belonging to Eileen and Jason Proctor which were on livery at her yard, then claimed they had been stolen. She also sold a horse loaned to her as a companion by Josie Cordery.

Ms Cordery of Speen, Berkshire loaned Bazzil to Nicholson in August 2007 and within 24 hours he was sold on.

With the help of the police and Horsewatch she was able to trace him and after eight weeks he was back home, but with cuts and injuries.

She told H&H: “In those eight weeks he was sold six times, to dealer after dealer. I shall have to live with what I let my horse go through and I shall not forget. So I do not believe the sentence was severe enough; she should have been banned from keeping horses for life.”

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Hamilton told Nicholson she was “thoroughly dishonest” and a “wicked” woman.

He said she only escaped a longer sentence because of the expense of keeping her in a prison cell.

Read this news story in full in the current issue of Horse & Hound (published on 10 July, ’08)