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Man caught unloading Shetland pony from ‘highly dangerous’ van

A man who travelled a Shetland pony in a “highly dangerous” van and allowed the pony to fly-graze on land littered with hazards has appeared in court.

Michael Edward Levy, 32, formerly of The Drive, West End, Southampton – now of Gravel Avenue, Brixham, Devon — was found guilty of two charges under the Animal Welfare Act when he appeared at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on 12 February.

Between 13 April and 19 April 2019 he failed to meet the needs of a dun colt, Shadrack, and a Shetland pony gelding – and on 18 April transported the pony in a manner like to cause injury or unnecessary suffering.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said inspectors were called by the police after Levy allowed the ponies to fly-graze on land at Botley Road, West End, Southampton. Police body-camera footage recorded the pony being unloaded by Levy from a white van on 18 April, and while Mr Levy denied the pony was transported in the van to the RSPCA, the footage was shown in court.

RSPCA inspector Tina Ward said in the back of the van was a narrow gap where the pony had been standing.

“He had been travelling with a rope headcollar on that was loose. There were no windows giving light or ventilation, no partition to support the pony’s body, which is particularly important,” she said.

“If the pony was to lose its balance when the vehicle went round a corner or stopped suddenly, he could have injured himself significantly.”

Ms Ward added where the pony had been standing was a number of items including a tin of paint and metal ladders.

“These also had the potential to cause the pony serious injury had he had fallen over. The method of transporting the pony was highly dangerous and would have also caused significant distress,” she said.

The spokesman added when welfare inspectors attended the land it was found to be “littered” with a number of hazards, and did not have clean water or shelter.

“A metal gate between two paddocks was hanging off its hinges,” said Ms Ward. “The paddock also had a hidden dangerous hazard; a cesspit covered by grass and rubble.

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“There were rusting metal and car parts as well as partly buried plastic blue piping. All of these had the potential to cause serious harm and injury.”

In mitigiation Levy said he had to move the pony from grazing with only 24 hours’ notice. He felt there was adequate water and that the hazards did not pose a risk.

Levy was banned from keeping equines for six months and fined £200. He must pay a £33 victim surcharge and £1,000 costs.

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