A horse owner from Lancashire has lost his appeal after he was found guilty of failing to seek adequate treatment for his horse’s ulcerated legs. William Byrne, 48, of Eastbourne Close, Preston, was handed an 18-week prison sentence — suspended for 12 months — and a ten-year ban on keeping horses when he was sentenced at Blackpool Magistrates Court on 16 November, 2022. He’d denied two animal welfare offences but was found guilty on both counts.

At an appeal hearing at Preston Crown Court on Friday (24 November) Recorder Michelle Brown, sitting with two lay magistrates, dismissed Bryne’s appeal against his conviction and sentence. He was also ordered to pay £300 in costs.

At a trial last year, magistrates were told that in September 2021 the RSPCA was made aware of concerns for a black cob horse, Tiny, seen at a property in Mill Lane in Hambleton. On discovering the pony had a severe leg condition, police and vets were called and an investigation began.

Tiny was transported to World Horse Welfare to undergo emergency treatment, but sadly, despite the vet’s best efforts, he had to be put to sleep to prevent further suffering.

In a witness statement, the veterinary surgeon who treated Tiny on behalf of the RSPCA described how the stallion, “had a known condition that had been diagnosed previously,” but although he had received some veterinary treatment, “further examination was denied by the owner, and almost three months later the horse was still suffering.”

The vet added: “The limbs of this horse were ulcerated in areas, bleeding and inflamed, and there was a secondary bacterial infection present. The right hind limb also had a maggot infestation which would have also caused further distress. In my opinion, the owner did not act in the best interests of the welfare of this horse — a responsible, caring owner would have sought adequate veterinary care.”

Speaking after the appeal hearing, RSPCA inspector William Lamping, who was involved in the investigation, said: “Tiny hadn’t received the veterinary care he so obviously needed, to the point where maggots were tunnelling into his skin.

“A responsible owner would have recognised the gravity of the situation and acted in a timely manner, but Bryne failed to do so and Tiny suffered unnecessarily for months as a result.”

At the time of sentencing, magistrates heard how the defendant had cited incompetent care rather than deliberate neglect.

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