A man has been banned from keeping horses for six years after two ponies were found severely malnourished and suffering from lice infestations.

Paul Roberts, 30, of Idwal, Acrefair, was made the subject of the order after he admitted two counts of causing uneccessary suffering to protected animals when he appeared before Wrexham Magistrates Court.

Roberts also pleaded guilty to failing to meet the duty of a person responsible for an animal to ensure welfare.

The charges related to a Shetland pony named Rocky and a Skewbald male pony named Tilly, who were kept in a field in Cinders Lane, Gyfelia, near Ruabon.

Prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, Glen Murphy said on May 24, inspector Kia Thomas had attended Vicarage Fields in Ruabon in relation to concerns for the welfare of a horse.

On June 5, she spoke to Roberts over the phone and he confirmed he had received the notice from the RSPCA and had wormed the horse.

Following that, Ms Thomas was alerted by members of the public to the condition of two ponies at Cinders Lane.

Rocky was found to be very thin with a swollen belly while Tilly’s body condition was also poor.

There was very little hay for them and lots of faeces which had not been cleaned up.

Ms Thomas was given a number for a man identified as Adam Jones but when she tried to make contact, the phone was answered by a woman claiming to be Mr Jones’ partner.

She was advised of the issue but when Ms Thomas returned at a later date, the ponies had still not been fed and the yard was covered in faeces.

Members of the public had been providing water for Rocky and Tilly.

Ms Thomas again tried to contact Mr Jones and spoke to the same woman, who confirmed they had received the RSPCA advice notice.

Still no action was taken and towards the end of June, Ms Thomas contacted a vet and the police and the ponies were examined.

Ms Thomas spoke to Adam Jones but he refused to give his address and stated he could not afford a vet for the ponies.

As well as lack of food and the problem with faeces, fencing was insecure, rubble had been dumped on the site and there was also ragwort present, which is toxic to ponies.

The vet determined both Rocky and Tilly had a body condtion of 0.5 out of five and that they were suffering from a heavy lice infestation.

They had been suffering for a minimum of four weeks.

Ms Thomas then identified the number she had for Adam Jones was the same one she had been given for Paul Roberts relating to the earlier case.

In interview, Roberts admitted he owned Rocky and Tilly and could not afford to care for them.

He said they might not have been in the best condition but they had hay and water and if they had been at death’s door, Roberts would have called a vet.

He had owned Rocky for eight months and had Tilly, aged four, from birth.

Both have since been signed over to the RSPCA and made a full recovery.

Andy Holliday, defending, said Roberts had suffered a catastrophic death in the family when his brother-in-law had died in a car crash.

Because of everything that was going on in relation to that, Roberts took his eye off the ball with regards to the ponies.

Mr Holliday argued four weeks of suffering was short-term neglect and there were no major aggravating features.

Roberts still owns a single horse called Gypsy which Mr Holliday asked district judge Gwyn Jones to allow him to keep.

Mr Jones imposed a six-year ban on keeping horses, with the exception of Gypsy.

He handed Roberts a 12-month community order with a 140-hour unpaid work requirement.

Costs of £300 and an £85 victim surcharge were also imposed.

Mr Jones said: “It is quite clear that both ponies were living in an area where there were significant dangers around and during that period of time you failed because of personal difficulties to answer your responsibility to meet the needs of these animals.

“As a result of that, they have suffered.”