A Yorkshire dealer who took horses on loan – then sold them on – has received a nine-month suspended prison sentence.

Brooke Lee, aged 24, of Roebuck Lane, Otley, pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud and a third of trading without professional diligence at York Magistrates Court on 15 December 2011.

Lee, who also goes by the names Katherine Dobbs and Becky, was sentenced at Harrogate Crown Court on 20 January.

She received 220 hours community service and was ordered to pay £750 costs.

The case was brought by the City of York Council’s animal health service.

The council’s trading standards manager Matt Boxall said: “She told a pack of lies when she took on the horses and another pack of lies when she sold them on.

“She led owners to believe they were doing the right thing for their animals, that they would be loved. Instead, they were sold on to unsuspecting customers.”

The Missing Horses On Loan website – which publicises missing horses – helped bring Lee to court.

It provided York City Council with information that revealed a pattern – Lee would take horses on loan but then sell them on.

A bay 15.3hh part-bred Irish draught gelding called The Apprentice, or “Thumper” (pictured), who had arthritis, was given to Lee as a companion for a filly. But just five days later, he was sold at York sales for £1,837.

The buyer found the horse was lame and was able to obtain a refund through the auction house.

He was then sold on and put to sleep about a month later.

Thumper’s former owner Sharon Lowin said: “No punishment would have been too harsh for us.

“Hopefully it will prevent the same thing happening to other people’s cherished horses.”

Another horse, Joe, was sold for £480 at Melton Mowbray and slaughtered just a few days after being given to Lee.

The council said Lee duped at least five owners in the same way, finding the horses through the Preloved website – where second-hand goods are sold.

“All of the complainants have described their devastation upon finding out their horses had been treated this way,” added Mr Boxall.

Ali Cann of Missing Horses On Loan said owners must do more to safeguard their horses.

“It’s not enough to hand over your horse to the nice lady who promises to care for it,” she said.

You must check where your horse is going, you must get a contract and you must keep an eye on your horse.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (2 February 2012)