A Derbyshire farmer and his mother have been banned from keeping horses for life after keeping them in ‘horrific’ conditions.
Anthony and Janet Melland were hit with the lifetime disqualification after five horses were left in two dirty and humid shipping containers on their farm for at least 22 hours a day.
Earlier this month at Chesterfield magistrates’ court, Mr Melland, 45, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a miniature Shetland pony called Robin.
He also admitted failing to provide five equines, Robin, Alana, Vienna, Kiara and Victor, with a suitable environment.
Sixty-nine-year-old Ms Melland, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to failing to provide three dogs, Spot, Mini and Ruby, with a suitable environment.
During sentencing at the court on Thursday, prosecutor Kevin Worthington said an RSPCA inspector and a vet visited the Melland’s Greatlow Farm on Ashbourne Road, Flagg, on February 10 this year and found two ‘large shipping containers’.
Inside one were two Shetland ponies including Robin who, according to Mr Worthington, was in a ‘very poor body condition’ and had ‘nasal discharge’.
Another container, housing mares and a foal with overgrown hooves, was covered with faeces and had poor ventilation.
Mr Worthington added the inspector and vet then went inside the Melland’s home and found three dogs in a ‘filthy, dirty’ area covered with faeces.
Marcus Harry, mitigating, said: “They didn’t set out to cause harm to animals.
“In 2012, Anthony lost his father and Janet lost her husband who had been in charge of the farm.
“In Anthony’s words, he was ‘chucked in at the deep end’ after his father’s death.
“They’ve struggled ever since with their day-to-day lives and the running of their business.
“They’re losing money and have had to sell half of their livestock to keep things afloat.”
Mr Harry added: “When I asked Anthony about schooling, he laughed.
“He’s a man who can’t read and write properly.”
Magistrates gave Mr Melland a six-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered him to do 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £400 costs – as well as the lifetime disqualification on keeping horses.
Magistrates handed Ms Melland a 16-week curfew, ordered her to pay £400 costs and also banned her from keeping horses for life.
RSPCA inspector Heather Morris, who investigated the case, said: “When we visited the farm in February, we found two Shetland ponies, Robin and Alana, being kept in a plastic shipping container which was extremely humid inside and with no fresh air.
“It was very small, there was no hay and the water was dirty.
“Additionally, the floor of the container was absolutely soaking and Robin was very skinny.
“We also found two adult cob horses and a cob foal – Vienna, Kiara and Victor – in a metal shipping container.
“The conditions in this container were just as horrific.
“In interview, it was admitted that the horses were shut away in the containers for at least 22 hours a day.
“On top of that, we also found three dogs – a Jack Russell, a poodle-type and a border terrier – living in an outhouse, covered in faeces and with no clean water.
“It was absolutely appalling that the animals were shut away in these horrific conditions.
“The containers were humid and absolutely stunk.
“For them to be locked away for that period of time with no fresh air is absolutely horrendous.”
The horses have been rehomed through the RSPCA and another equine welfare charity.
The three dogs were also taken into the RSPCA’s care and have found new homes.
Inspector Morris added: “We worked together with World Horse Welfare, Derbyshire police and the local trading standards in this case and we are very grateful for their help.”