Finally a verdict in the Amersham horses case … GUILTY … hurrah.
James Gray and his son James Gray Junior (the youth that could not be named for legal reasons) were found guilty of all 11 counts of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
His wife Julie and daughters Jodie and Cordelia, after he took full responsibilty, were found guilty on two counts of failing to meet the welfare needs of animals.
Sentencing will take place on 12th June 2009.
The judge has asked for pre-sentence reports and said Gray’s past offence, were he was fined 3,500 pounds for a similar charge in Oct 2006, would be taken into account.
One thing the prosecutions pre-sentencing report will contain is a request that ownership of the rescued equines transfer from the Grays to the charities currently caring for them.
This would allow the horses, ponies and donkeys to be rehomed but presently the Grays still own them and unless the judge transfers ownership they will continue to own them .. personally I believe they would be better off dead than being returned to the Grays.
Since this case first began the Grays have continued trading in horses and until sentencing they will be allowed to continue trading.
Of course the Grays can also appeal their convictions, which would allow him to continue trading until the appeal is heard.
They say the law is an ass and this case is another example.
People found guilty of unnecessary suffering to animals are allowed to continue buying, selling and neglecting horses, ponies and donkeys in order to make a profit .. while still maintaining ownership of the animals they were found guilty of neglecting.
I take my hat off to all the charities and organisations involved with rescuing these animals and bringing this case to trial but I am not in celebratory mood.
We live in a country with strict animal welfare laws, we claim to be a country of animal lovers and yet this case shows that the system in it’s current form is simply not working.
Having already been found guilty and fined for animal cruelty our system should have banned him from trading or keeping animals again.
At the very least Spindles Farm should have had a large red flag stuck in the map and regular visits to ensure this was never allowed to happen again on the farm but instead we had to have an all out rescue mission and remove horses living among carcasses and knee deep in their own poo.
Serious questions need to be asked about why someone already convicted of cruelty was allowed to go on to bigger and greater crimes against equines.
In the past year the average cost of caring for and rehabilitating the rescued animals is a staggering 850,000, add to that the cost of the court case and compare that to the cost of a once a month visit by an inspector .. plus of course the lack of suffering these animals endured had we prevented this happening.
The RSPCA must be given greater powers, even if that is in a inspecting and reporting role but at the moment they are trying to work with one hand tied behind their backs within a legal system which fails to prevent .. only prosecute once the damage is done.