‘He’d never felt the sun on his back’: emaciated mare and foal found in dark, rubbish-strewn barn

  • A man who kept a mare and foal shut in a dark barn for 18 months has been banned from keeping animals for life.

    Frederick Charles Stannard, 64, admitted neglecting the ponies, who were found riddled with parasites and emaciated, with overgrown feet, last September.

    Until his rescue, the foal had never been in sunlight. Both have since been nursed back to health by Redwings, and have a permanent home with the charity.

    RSPCA inspector Chris Nice said: “We were made aware of these two little ponies, Charlie and Bella, in September 2016, after a dog walker strayed from the footpath accidently, and came across the secluded barn. They were very lucky to have been found, as who knows how much longer they would have gone on suffering, undiscovered, as the barn was completely isolated.

    “The barn was so dark the walker couldn’t see much but was concerned and gave us a call. I left a calling card, that was never responded to. I became really concerned that nobody was attending these horses, so the police obtained a warrant to investigate further.”

    Mr Nice and Redwings vet Nicola Berryman were then able to examine the ponies, who were both very nervous of people.

    Mr Nice added: “Mr Stannard admitted failing to provide care for these ponies and causing them unnecessary suffering, and he willingly signed both over to our care after telling us he knew he shouldn’t have had them and could see they weren’t well, but he couldn’t afford to have them seen by a vet. It seems his lack of knowledge of horses led him to becoming overwhelmed at taking care of them.

    “In reality, horses are hard work to look after, not to mention expensive, and this case really shows that if you don’t have the time, knowledge or experience, you shouldn’t own a horse. I am really glad to hear Bella and Charlie have recovered well in Redwings’ care.”

    Redwings officer Julie Harding said she is “delighted” by the outcome of the case.

    She added: “Bella and Charlie’s story is a very upsetting one. When we found the pair, Bella had been shut in the barn for more than 18 months. The barn had very little ventilation, was strewn with rubbish and was also a home to an array of poultry.

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    “After a month of being closed in the barn, Bella gave birth to Charlie, so for the first 17 months of his life before his rescue, Charlie never felt the sun on his back. I cannot understand why someone would treat their horses this way.”

    Stannard, of High Street, Methwold, Thetford, appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (1 March) where he was banned from owning all animals for life and given a 12-week prison sentence for each of four offences under the Animal Welfare Act, to run concurrently and suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay £150 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

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