A man has appeared in court today in connection with the death of a horse at last year’s Appleby Horse Fair.

A piebald horse drowned on the second day of Appleby Fair — Friday, 8 June 2007 — after being dragged underwater during the annual fair’s ritual “washing” in the River Eden.

The incident took place in full view of the public and RSPCA inspectors. It caused public outrage after graphic pictures of the distressed horse slipping into the water were printed in the national press.

Ian Deer, 21, of Seven Sisters Road, Tottenham — previously from Folkestone in Kent — was arrested on 13 November 2007 by RSPCA inspectors and officers from Cumbria Police. He was charged with causing unnecessary suffering to the horse, under section 4(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, charges to which he pleaded guilty.

Deer was due to appear in Penrith Magistrates’ Court yesterday, but failed to turn up.

But he did appear in Penrith Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday, 21 February), in a case brought jointly between the RSPCA and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The Penrith magistrates today agreed the facts of the case, which was adjourned for pre-sentence reports.

A hearing will be held at Carlisle Magistrates Court Thursday 13 March.