Mum left pet horse to starve

PUBLISHED: 13:26 18 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

A SUFFOLK mum is counting the cost after she left her pet horse to starve in a field.

It resulted in the animal becoming emaciated and close to death … but the three-year-old horse, named Rufus, survived and is now being cared for by new owners.

A SUFFOLK mum is counting the cost today after she left her pet horse to starve in a field.

It resulted in the animal becoming emaciated and close to death … but the three-year-old horse, named Rufus, survived and is now being cared for by new owners.

Julia Coe was banned for five years from keeping horses and was also ordered to pay a fine of £1,000 and costs of £800 after pleading guilty to cruelty to animals.

The photograph here shows how the animal was reduced to little more than skin and bone, standing in a field with barely any grass to graze.

Yesterday, magistrates in Ipswich heard that RSPCA Inspector Lorraine Williams discovered Rufus and a pony in state of ill health in February.

Insp Williams made visits to the Bourne Hill field on several occasions throughout March but often discovered the horses had no water, no food and no shelter.

Eventually the RSPCA prosecuted Coe, of Lewis Lane, Stutton, for her cruelty in neglecting Rufus. Both animals were removed from the field on the advice of vet Peter Mason.

Hugh Rowland, prosecuting for the RSPCA, told the court: "On March 23 Mr Mason found Rufus to be covered with two rugs causing rub marks."

Mr Rowland told South East Suffolk magistrates that parts of the horse such as the ribs and "shoulders" were clearly visible. He added that the horse had no water, food or shelter and that Rufus was suffering from worms, malnutrition and some muscle damage.

He said: "It's likely that the horse's condition had been poor for many weeks and that it had been suffering for that length of time."

John Hughes, defending, said that Coe had been suffering from post-natal depression after the birth of her son Callum in April last year.

He said: "She purchased Rufus in the middle part of last year and when she bought him he was in a poor condition. However things started to go wrong with regards to her circumstances."

He said Coe had to go through the upheaval of financing a move as her previous address had damp that had aggravated Callum's asthma. She was also working 12-hour shifts in a bid to earn extra money.

Mr Hughes added: "Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight she would have sold the horses or moved them to new premises at an early stage than she did."

He said that she had a love of horses and had kept them since the age of nine. He added that she said she had been feeding them regularly but admittedly not as much food as was required.

"She was caught between a rock and a hard place. Perhaps with a little bit more foresight she would have realised that things would have got worse for Rufus and that the right decision would have been to get rid of the horse."

In sentencing Coe chairman of the bench, David Smith, described the offence as "a serious neglect over a period of time."

After the hearing Insp Williams said: "Miss Coe was given every opportunity to help improve the living conditions and was offered help and advice in improving the body condition of the horse.

"The RSPCA was left with no option except to instigate proceedings against Miss Coe so that we could take the horse and pony into our care.

"The RSPCA will only prosecute as a last resort. I would ask anybody who is having problems with their animals for whatever reason to contact the RSPCA or other animal welfare organisations for help and advice."

She added that both Rufus and the pony had since been re-homed.

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