A mother and daughter were given suspended prison sentences earlier this month (2 February) after two ponies in their care had to put down because they were suffering from chronic laminitis.
Teresa O’Rourke, her 22-year-old daughter Sarah and their friend Christopher Kenneally appeared at Peterborough Magistrates Court for sentencing under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act.
Mr Kenneally had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, while the O’Rourkes changed their plea to guilty on the first day of the trial.
The ponies first came to the attention of World Horse Welfare in April 2014 after a concerned call from a member of the public.
“I could see immediately that five of the six ponies were showing signs of laminitis but unfortunately Mrs O’Rourke would not allow us to enter the property to inspect them more closely,” said World Horse Welfare field officer Jacko Jackson.
World Horse Welfare returned the following day with the police, RSPCA and a vet and all six ponies were removed on welfare grounds.
“Sadly two of the ponies, Chester and Tara, had such chronic laminitis that they were put to sleep — it would have been impossible for them to make a pain-free recovery,” said Mr Jackson.
“The grazing was very lush and there was no indication that it was being restricted or that the ponies were being treated. They were all very obviously in pain and some were unable to move at all.”
Mrs O’Rourke, who was found guilty of a similar offence in 2004, was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, a six month supervision order with probation. She was also banned for 10 years from keeping equines, given a deprivation order and ordered to pay £500 costs.
Her daughter had a suspended sentence she was already serving for an unrelated conviction extended by six months, was given 200 hours of unpaid community service which must be served within 12 months and ordered to pay £500 costs. She also received a two-year disqualification from keeping equines as well as a deprivation order.
Mr Kenneally was given 120 hours of unpaid community service, which must be served within 12 months, and ordered to pay £300 costs. He was also given a two-year ban from keeping any animal and a deprivation order.
The deprivation orders mean that ownership of all of the ponies involved in the case was legally given to World Horse Welfare. The four remaining ponies are all making good progress at Hall Farm rescue and rehoming centre.
Mr Jackson added: “Watching and listening to Mrs O’Rourke there was absolutely no remorse, which is something the judge commented on and is the most disappointing outcome.”