The Crown Prosecution Service has discontinued its case against a Wiltshire woman who was due to appear in court over an allegedly stolen loan horse because the horse was not microchipped or freeze-marked.
Thames Valley Police and Horsewatch in Oxfordshire have been investigating the case of a 15.2hh palomino gelding known as Ieuan who went missing in 1991 while on loan.
Owner Susan Peter from Bewdley, Worcs, was told that her former eventer had died while on loan to Dilys van Tromp, who was then based in Kelmscott, Oxon, but has since lived in Gloucestershire and now runs Brokerswood Farm riding school, Trowbridge, Wilts.
However, Ieuan, now in his 20s, “returned” in autumn 2003, when he was bought by the area’s Horsewatch co-ordinator, who realised that she had investigated his disappearance more than a decade before. Dilys van Tromp, was charged with theft in summer 2004.
But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has discontinued the case at a stage when it was about to be listed for the Crown Court, because of difficulties associated with identifying the horse. Despite the opinion of an equine vet, the CPS concluded that since the animal was not freeze-marked or microchipped at the time it went missing, it could not categorically be said to be Ieuan.
WPC Sue Burns from Thames Valley Police, who has been heading up the enquiry, says: “This is very frustrating and has wide-ranging implications for all owners who might be relying on vaccination certificates or passport diagrams to identify their horse if stolen.
“The message to owners is clearly that all equines need to be protected with individual identification.”
Despite the CPS’s decision, WPC Burns would still like to hear from anyone who might have purchased this horse between 1991 and 1994 (tel: 01608 648715) or e-mail: Sue.Burns@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk