Suspended sentence for dealer who falsely claimed pony had been used by Riding for the Disabled

A dealer who falsely claimed a pony she sold to the mother of an autistic child had been used by the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Chantelle Louise Smith, of Halifax Road, Penistone, South Yorkshire, was sentenced at Teesside Crown Court on 12 September.

The 47-year-old had previously admitted eight charges of trading unfairly, in a case brought by North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards.

A complaint had been made to Trading Standards by a woman who was led to believe Smith was a private seller when she bought a horse called Freestate – when the dealer was “acting in the course of her business”.

A second complainant, who was looking for a pony for her 11-year-old autistic son, was told by Smith a pony called Daisy would be suitable, and had been “an RDA horse”.

The court heard this was not true, and that Smith again claimed she was a private seller. She also recommended a vet for a pre-purchase examination without disclosing he was a vet she had a connection with.

“After purchase Daisy proved to be strong and easily agitated, and was not at all suitable for the buyer’s son to ride. Smith failed to reply to any of the buyer’s texts,” said a spokesman for the county council, adding that further enquiries found Smith had misled other buyers.

“The buyer of a horse named Saxon was told that it was a private sale, and was also given the name of a vet to carry out pre-purchase checks without being told that there was an existing connection between him and Smith,” the spokesman said.

“Three horses were advertised as having a passport, when they did not, and two were supplied to their new owners without passports.”

Three buyers were misled about the length of time the horse concerned had been with the dealer.

“In each case horses were owned for a shorter period of time and this meant Smith did not have the knowledge she claimed about the horses’ temperaments and suitability for each purchaser,” the spokesman said.

County Councillor Andrew Lee, portfolio holder for trading standards, said buyers relied on Smith’s descriptions and were misled into buying horses when they would not otherwise have done so.

“Smith’s claims not to be a trader then limited their ability to seek compensation when the horses did not meet their requirements,” he said.

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“It is particularly disappointing that Smith chose to mislead the mother of a child with autism about the suitability of a horse for her son and I am pleased the court recognised this in the sentence.”

In mitigation, the court heard Smith did not intend to deceive anyone, that her actions were not for personal gain, that her marriage had broken down and that she is unable to work.

The court was also told that while Smith accepted she had made the RDA comment, the pony was advertised accurately, and her temperament must have changed after the sale.

Smith’s prison term was suspended for 18 months and she was also ordered to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work.

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