Life ban for Preston couple after ponies were found ‘imprisoned in deplorable conditions’

A couple have been banned from keeping animals for life after four severely neglected ponies were found “imprisoned in deplorable conditions” at a smallholding in Lancashire.

By Henry Widdas, Communities Content Page Manager
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 9:32 am

The RSPCA inspector who investigated the case said “the extreme level of neglect found will remain with me” and said she had not seen anything like it in her entire career.

The ponies - aged around six and seven years old - were unable to stand up naturally due to the level of faecal build up in the cramped conditions and it is thought they may never have left their filthy stables during their whole life . Three other ponies were found in poor health stabled at premises nearby.

Jack Carter, 75, and wife Barbara, 72, both of Bank Bridge, Tarleton, near Preston, who bred, showed and kept horses for 60 years, both pleaded guilty to three animal welfare offences when they appeared before Lancashire Magistrates on Thursday, January 20 in a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.

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The living conditions that the ponies had to endure

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The court heard how the RSPCA were called to investigate after a member of the public raised concerns about the welfare of a pony believed to be in their care.

RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald attended the address on Monday, March 22 last year and could see a rundown stable block behind the couple’s house but was unable to access this without permission so over the following days made several attempts to contact the couple by telephone to arrange to visit them.

Inspector McDonald was concerned that the defendant was avoiding a visit so returned to the area again to view the stable from a public footpath nearby - where she saw that a green sheet and wire mesh now covered the doorway of the dilapidated stable she saw on her first visit.

The living conditions that the ponies had to endure

She believed there was a pony inside which Jack Carter was trying to hide so she arranged a formal visit with Lancashire police which took place on Wednesday, April 7.

She met with Jack Carter who denied there were any ponies or horses at the site on a number of occasions but when she asked to see inside the stable at the back of the house he reluctantly agreed.

Inspector McDonald said: “Inside the first stable I found a grey pony in horrendous environmental and physical condition. I had never seen anything like it in my entire career. The pony was stood on top of deep rotting litter that had built up so much that it reached the top of the stable door. The pony was unable to fully stand up and it’s back protruded through a hole in the stable roof.”

In sentencing the magistrates heard how the Carters had been given the opportunity to work with the RSPCA on previous occasions but did not seek that help.

As well as the life ban on keeping all animals both defendants were imprisoned for 12 weeks suspended for two years and were both ordered to pay £500 costs.

The presiding magistrate said the case was “extremely distressing” and added: “This crosses the custody threshold for the reason of prolonged ill-treatment and neglect which resulted in a high level of suffering. The only reason the sentence was suspended is to take into account the defendant’s medical needs and age. If it was not for these factors you would be going straight to prison.”