The trial of Buckinghamshire horse dealer James Gray has opened today at Bicester Magistrates Court, and is due to last until mid-March.

45-year-old James Gray, his wife Julie, 41, daughters Jodie, 26, and Cordelia, 20, all of Spindle Farm, Amersham, and a 15-year-old youth who cannot be named, each face 12 charges of cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, for allegedly failing to meet the welfare needs of 132 horses, ponies and donkeys.

RSPCA officers were called to Spindle Farm on 5 January and in the course of four days removed 111 horses, ponies and donkeys, said to be in an emaciated state, and found a further 31 animals dead.

The first day of the trial has been spent in legal argument.