Mother and daughter who ‘loved horses’ allowed group to suffer ‘prolonged neglect’

  • A group of horses suffered a “prolonged level of neglect” at the hands of a mother and daughter who claimed to “love horses”.

    Lorraine Potter, 62 and her daughter Toyah Potter, 20, both of Regent Drive, Easingwold, North Yorkshire, were sentenced at York Magistrates’ Court on 8 October, having pleaded guilty to four animal welfare offences at a trial on 13 September.

    In March 2020 RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell attended a field at Sands Lane, Huby, following a request for assistance from World Horse Welfare.

    Ms Mitchell said there was no sign of food or water available to the group of six equines and one pony who had broken into a separate area with corrugated metal sheets was found with his head in a bag of food and appeared to be “very hungry”.

    “There were also other hazards in the field such as car batteries, a saw and pieces of wood. All of the horses had rugs on so it was not possible to assess their bodily conditions but some of them looked thin even with the rugs on,” said Ms Mitchell.

    “The paddock was completely poached and all the horses appeared to be very hungry and were following us around.”

    An RSPCA spokesman said a vet and police attended the scene and on examination four of the horses were found to be in a “suffering state”. Gelding Ronin, mares Maggie May and Missy, and elderly gelding Corrie were thin.

    “Ronin, a small piebald foal around six to nine months old called Bracken, and Corrie, were suffering from lice infestations. Corrie was also suffering from lack of dental care and Star, a piebald yearling filly, did not have her needs met,” said the spokesman.

    Police seized the horses and passed them into the RSPCA’s care and they were taken to a private boarding establishment.

    In mitigation the court heard the mother and daughter “loved horses” and had found it “distressing” to accept they had let them down. It was added that they had received threats of intimidation on social media.

    Lorraine Potter was banned from keeping equines indefinitely, which cannot be contested for three years. She was made subject to a 12-month community order, to include 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days, and a 16-week curfew in which she will be electronically monitored. She must pay a £90 victim surcharge.

    Toyah Potter was banned from keeping equines for five years and cannot contest this for three. She was also given a 12-month conditional discharge and must pay a £21 victim surcharge. Both were ordered to pay £700 costs.

    During sentencing, magistrates told the mother the sentence imposed was a “direct alternative to custody”, and the lack of care afforded to the animals was such that the magistrates’ were “satisfied there was a prolonged level of neglect”, adding that the animals were neglected “very badly in her hands”.

    In addressing the daughter, magistrates said they had been told she was an animal lover, and while that may be the case it did not allow her to ignore their “clear welfare needs”.

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