Horse trader James Gray, who was jailed after being found guilty of Britain’s worst recorded case of equine neglect, faces financial ruin after judges rejected his appeal against a £600,000 legal bill.

Gray, 49, was prosecuted in January 2008 when police and welfare agencies raided his Buckinghamshire farm.

They found 31 dead horses, ponies and donkeys and removed a further 115 that were alive, but in poor condition.

After a 52-day trial, Gray was convicted of 11 offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in May 2009.

He was jailed for 24 weeks and banned indefinitely from keeping or owning equines.

Two of his convictions were overturned in 2010 at Aylesbury Crown Court, but Gray was ordered to pay £600,000 towards the RSPCA’s legal costs.

Last week (12 March), at the High Court, in London, Lord Justice Toulson and Mr Justice Silber dismissed Gray’s pleas that his prosecution was blighted by procedural errors and that the legal costs bill was “grossly disproportionate”.

Gray’s wife Julie, 46, was also prosecuted in 2008 and given a community order. Her legal bills totalled £200,000 but the High Court ruled that was wrong and sent the issue back to the Crown Court to be reconsidered.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (21 March 2013)