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Former racehorse trainer banned from keeping horses for five years

Durham-based former racehorse trainer Paul Johnson has been banned from keeping horses for five years after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to a thoroughbred.

Thoroughbred stallion Hans Christian had to be put down in 2007 after being found by the RSPCA with a maggot-infested leg wound.

Mr Johnson appeared at Peterlee Magistrates Court last Friday (13 November) and pleaded guilty to failing to seek veterinary treatment for the horse’s injury, an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Mr Johnson, of Low Wyndways Farm, White Le-Head, Tantobie, was also ordered to do 60 hours of unpaid community work and pay £4,650 in vet and court costs.

The seven-year-old thoroughbred stallion Hans Christian was seized by the RSPCA on Monday, 11 June 2007 when inspectors found the horse lame at Mr Johnson’s farm.

The horse had an infected and maggot-infested wound on his left foreleg and was put down two days later.

RSPCA inspector Tony Jackman said: “This horse was in a terrible state when he came to our attention. He was suffering terribly. He couldn’t carry weight on the injured leg and had been that way for a number of weeks. Mr Johnson’s failure to seek veterinary attention was inexcusable.”

The RSPCA incurred £24,000 in costs challenging a judge’s decision to throw out the case in October last year.

The judge ruled the RSPCA had taken too long to bring the case but the RSPCA successfully challenged the decision at the High Court in London on Friday 16 October.

Lord Justice Pill decided that delays in the case were not an “abuse of process” and that much of the delay “was caused by Mr Johnson himself” who had made “concerted efforts” to “avoid and hide from” an RSPCA inspector.

Tim Ryan representing Mr Johnson said the trainer and dentist had been going through a divorce and was on holiday when the horse was seized.

He said Mr Johnson, who had 20 horses at the time, had attempted to treat the wound himself the month before.

RSPCA inspector Jackman said: “You can’t cut corners when it comes to the welfare of the animals in your care. Mr Johnson’s lack of action caused this horse a great deal of suffering, unnecessarily.

“I hope the sentence passed will ensure this doesn’t ever happen again.”

The British Horseracing Authority withdrew Mr Johnson’s trainer’s licence in 2007 due to the RSPCA prosecution.

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