James Gray has lost his appeal against conviction for horse welfare offences. He will now be re-sentenced on 12 May.
His wife Julie Gray (42), and daughters Jodie (27) and Cordelia Gray (21) were also unsuccessful in their appeals.
Gray’s 17-year-old son, also James, was acquitted on two charges, but convicted of the rest.
RSPCA inspectors discovered more than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys and the bodies of a further 32 equines at Gray’s property — Spindles Farm near Amersham — between Friday 4 and Wednesday 9 January 2008.
In a judgement delivered at Aylesbury Crown Court at 10am today, Recorder Christopher Tyrer said: “We are satisfied that these horses were neglected and starved. It follows that the appellants [James Gray and the boy] failed to exercise reasonable care and supervision in respect of their protection and they knew or ought reasonably to have known that this would have that effect….
“…We have found that all the appellants were responsible for all these animals and that they knew what was happening on the premises and took no action to alleviate the problems.”
Referring to James Gray, he added: “We are satisfied that, at the time [the RSPCA] visited Spindles Farm in January 2008, these animals were not being fed or watered adequately or at all….he [Gray] sought neither assistance nor veterinary attention to his animals and was still acquiring even more animals from outside, despite being unable to look after them or those he had already brought to the premises.”
RSPCA inspector Kirsty Hampton, who investigated the case, said: “We’re pleased the extent of the cruelty, neglect and suffering endured by the animals in this case has been recognised — and also the RSPCA’s hard work and experience, which was crucial in successfully bringing the case to court.”
The court case and appeal has so far cost the RSPCA more than £1million, including veterinary treatment and care of the rescued horses. The investigation has been one of the RSPCA’s biggest ever.
Gray was sentenced to 24 weeks in jail with £400,000 costs and a life ban from keeping, trading in or transporting horses, on 12 June 2009.
He will learn next Wednesday whether the sentence still stands.