Owner jailed after thin unrugged mare found dead from suspected hypothermia

  • The owner of a mare who is believed to have died from hypothermia after she was left in “horrendous” weather conditions, underweight and without a rug, has been jailed.

    Victoria Young, 42, of Oak Bank, Alveley, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a mare called Diamond by failing to address the cause of her poor body condition and weight loss and was sentenced at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on 25 November.

    The RSPCA was contacted in late December 2020 when Diamond’s body was discovered by a member of the public at a site on an unnamed lane in the Alveley area of Bridgnorth.

    A spokesman for the charity said Diamond had been kept at the site since mid-2020, at which time she was in good body condition. But Young failed to investigate her deteriorating condition and weight loss in the months that followed, which vets believe caused the mare to suffer from late October until her death on 29 December.

    A veterinary testimony suggested Diamond’s condition declined owing to Young’s failure to provide a suitable diet, and an expert witness report provided to the court noted a lack of available grazing at the field and the presence of ragwort.

    “There was a lack of grass growth after October, while hay was only seen in the field on one occasion by witnesses, with no provision of supplementary food,” said the RSPCA spokesman.

    “Vets feel the most likely cause of Diamond’s death was hypothermia. She was found without a rug upon her death, despite temperatures frequently falling below zero in Bridgnorth in the weeks preceding, with weather conditions described by witnesses as ‘horrendous’, including ‘snow, rain and terrific winds’.”

    RSPCA inspector Thea Kerrison, who investigated, added that Diamond suffered as a consequence of her owner’s failure to investigate her rapidly declining body condition and weight loss.

    “Unfortunately, poor Diamond simply didn’t have an appropriate diet – with grazing conditions totally unsuitable, and supplementary food lacking. When her body was found, she wasn’t even wearing a rug, despite the severe weather conditions. Her body was thin and I could see her ribs,” she said.

    “Clearly this tragic situation could have been avoided had her owner addressed the causes of this horse’s deteriorating state. This case reminds us what can go wrong when owners do not take their legal obligations to their animals seriously.”

    In mitigation the court heard Young was “remorseful and heartbroken” by events. She was also dealing with a family illness during her failure to attend to Diamond.

    Young was sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment. She was banned from keeping animals for life and cannot contest this for five years. She was ordered to pay £750 costs and a victim surcharge of £128.

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