A MAN has been jailed for leaving his horses to fend for themselves – resulting in one of them dying – while he went to two capital cities to recuperate after an operation.
Simon David Docherty, of Riverside campsite in Queensferry, believed someone else was looking after the four horses while his family took him to London and later Paris to recuperate from an operation to rebuild his ear, which was bitten off in a fight about 10 years ago.
Docherty, 33, was sentenced to four months in prison at West Cheshire Magistrates Court yesterday after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing in his duty of care for the animals’ welfare.
Docherty was also ordered to pay almost £20,000 in costs to cover the RSPCA’s care of the three remaining horses.
Glenn Murphy, prosecuting, said an RSPCA inspector turned up at the field near Shotwick Lane, Shotwick, Cheshire, on March 19 last year and found three horses in poor condition, with another horse lying on its side dead at the far end of the field.
Mr Murphy said the condition of the horses was made worse by the particularly harsh weather. The inspector returned later to collect the horses but was unable to do so because of bad weather at the time.
Graham Jones had been helping Docherty to look after the horses during 2012 but felt he was unable to continue. He twice went to the site where Docherty lived but was unable to speak with him directly and left a message telling him he would not be able to help with the horses any more.
Docherty said the message was not passed on to him.
Michael Sophocleous, defending, said Docherty had been around animals all his life and described the dead horse, Seabiscuit, as a “favourite family pet” and “prized possession”.
Mr Sophocleous added Docherty had been told he was at risk of infection after his operation and was advised any contact with animals could cause complications in his recovery.
He said Docherty made arrangements for the care of the horses but was “let down” by Mr Jones.
Describing the case as an “isolated incident”, Mr Sophocleous said: “Whatever punishment the court decides to issue Mr Docherty, he has already suffered a significant loss.”
Sentencing, district judge Michael Abelson said: “It is absolutely essential in these difficult economic times, the RSPCA is encouraged to pursue these cases with vigour.
“Someone has got to pay for this – it is not up to the taxpayers. Your family paid for this extensive holiday in London and Paris and I have to say the costs, while quite large, are fully justified.”
Mr Abelson sentenced Docherty to four months in prison for each charge, to be served concurrently and ordered the payment of £19,807.05 in costs within the next 12 months.
Docherty was also banned from having any involvement in the keeping of animals for the next decade and a deprivation order was issued for the recovery of the three horses and the carcass of Seabiscuit.