Tom Price jailed after 240 horses removed from ‘appalling’ conditions

  • A man with a “track record” of animal mistreatment, who kept 240 horses in “appalling conditions”, has been sent to prison and banned from keeping animals for life.

    Tom Price, who has previously been prosecuted for welfare offences, and banned for five years, was found guilty on 32 charges, at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ Court last week.

    District judge Neil Thomas told 56-year-old “horse trader and breeder” Price, of Redway Road, Bonvilston, that the evidence against him was compelling.

    The court heard Price kept animals in “atrocious” conditions, at three sites in the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend.

    In August 2019, animal welfare officers found a flock of Jacob sheep with fleeces still unshorn during a visit to Swn-y-Mor, Wick.

    Several dead sheep were found, and a number of the remaining animals were “suffering from the effects of maggots and associated wounds”. The worst-affected sheep were put down and the rest seized.

    In January 2020, welfare officers found horses on the sites, in Bonvilston, Coity and Swn-y-Mor.

    “They were standing in extremely deep mud, there was a lack of clean fresh water, and some had no forage,” said a spokesman for the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

    “Two of the sites were strewn with hazards such as sharp metal and barbed wire, and at one site the horses were kept in overcrowded, filthy conditions with nowhere for them to lie down.”

    Price was charged with causing unnecessary suffering in relation to eight horses, some of whom were “significantly underweight”, while others had “long-standing wounds caused by ill-fitting rugs”.

    The case was brought to trial by Shared Regulatory Services, the body responsible for providing environmental health, Trading Standards and licensing functions across the Bridgend, Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan local authority areas, after months of working with police, Redwings and the RSPCA.

    Redwings’ Nic de Brauwere, who also chairs the National Equine Welfare Council, said: “I witnessed first-hand the shocking conditions and desperate lack of care at these sites, which included ponies with untreated wounds, not enough food and water and many that were severely underweight living in totally unsuitable conditions.

    “I am therefore very pleased and relieved to see a successful prosecution and robust sentencing, which will prevent more horses facing neglect at the hands of these individuals. This is by no means the first case Redwings has dealt with involving horses from this owner and the sheer amount of charity time, energy and resources that we have invested in protecting these animals over the years is difficult to put into words.”

    Mr de Brauwere thanked the councils and other welfare charities, adding that attempts are now being made to rehome the recovered horses.

    Dave Holland, head of Shared Regulatory Services, said: “Mr Price has a track record of mistreating animals and I hope this sentence sends out a message that such neglect and cruelty will not be tolerated in our local authority areas.

    “The decision to hand down a prison sentence and the lifetime disqualification reflects the seriousness of these offences and the extreme suffering Price was responsible for.

    “This conviction follows many months of partnership working between local authorities, South Wales Police Redwings and the RSPCA. Having to seize and care for animals on this scale has been extremely costly, but those that keep animals should be left in no doubt that these are steps we are prepared to take to ensure animals receive the appropriate level of care.”

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    A council spokesman said the judge “also took a dim view of the fact Price had obstructed officers during the course of their duties at one of the sites”.

    Co-defendant Luanne Bishop had pleaded guilty to 31 of the charges and was sentenced at the same hearing to a 12-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months.

    She will have to wear an electronic tag for that time, and be subject to a curfew between 9pm and 6am.

    Bishop was also banned from keeping any animals for life, except for “a number of specified pets”.

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