Horse owner’s ban amended after appeal

Oxford Crown Court
Oxford Crown Court

A Banbury man who was banned from keeping animals for five years after neglecting two horses in his care has had the terms of the ban amended following an appeal.

At a Banbury Magistrates’ Court hearing last October, John Terrance Murphy, 56, of Lidsey Road, pleaded guilty to one count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and two counts of failing to ensure the needs of an animal for which he was responsible were met.

Murphy appeared at Oxford Crown Court last Friday to appeal against the disqualification and costs of £2,400.

Jonathan Coode, prosecuting, told the court how the incident related to a small field in Brookside Way in Bloxham. RSPCA inspectors visited the site on March 4 to find both horses, a pregnant mare named Barbie and a nine-month old filly called Lizzie, infested with lice and worms.

Inspectors saw the mare’s back and hip bones protruding and little grazing pasture in the field. A vet examination showed the filly was extremely weak and given a body score of one out of five (very poor).

She was taken to hospital and put on a drip, taking six months to fully recover. The mare also recovered and gave birth to a healthy foal.

In a police interview on March 20, Murphy admitted owning the field but denied any lack of care towards the animals, saying he applied powder to the lice a week before the inspectors visited the field and had treated the worms for a long time.

A notice had been left on the gate by the RSPCA but Murphy did not notice it as he can not read or write. Murphy also said the horses were fed the day after the inspectors visited.

Mr Coode said: “Inspectors visited the field again on March 6 and believed there was still no contact with the horses. The hay had gone and they could see little difference at all. The vet said both animals were suffering and it could have been avoided.”

Ali Dewji, defending, told the court Murphy had accused the RSPCA of tricking him into signing over ownership of the horses by telling him the filly would die. He said: “My client had treated the animals for parasites and he believes there was plenty of food for them, as well as a stream at the bottom of the field for them to get to. He has lived his whole life working with animals and been involved with horses for many years. He is not someone who does not care for animals. He is feeling very remorseful about the whole situation.”

Mr Dewji added that Murphy and his family have owned the field for about eight years, and RSPCA officers visited the site about 50 times. He said they never gave advice on how to look after the animals during those visits and officers did not need to carry out any investigation.

Murphy is due to have several operations to treat a foot injury sustained while at work back in 2011. Now unable to work and under the care of his wife, he was unable to treat the horses due to being in hospital on March 4.

Mr Dewji said: “His children are trying to run a commercial business with five other horses in the field and need their father’s expertise, of which he has a great deal.

“He feels a weight of burden on them and this ban stops him from getting involved. He does not expect them to continue this and it has put everyone in great difficulty.”

Judge Mary Mowat ordered the five-year ban to apply to equine animals only. Murphy was also ordered to pay £500 costs for the appeal.