#TheList Sue Smith and daughter Georgina ‘Gina Louise’ Blizzard Smith, both of Ingst Manor Farm, Ingst Hill, Olveston, Bristol BS35 4AP and Smith’s employee Mark Downes of Pilning, Bristol – convicted of a catalogue of shocking offences of animal welfare involving horses, cattle, goats, pigs, chickens and dogs.
The RSPCA said the scenes they discovered at Ingst Manor Farm will ‘stick in the minds’ of all the inspectors who found hundreds of dead and dying animals at the farm, with dead horses, pigs, sheep, chickens and cattle lying around, being eaten by other animals.
The carcasses of 87 dead sheep were found, nine cattle, two pigs, two goats and there were so many dead chickens and poultry that the RSPCA could not count them all,
The animals that were still alive were waist-deep in faeces and decomposing bodies.
A decomposing horse was found wrapped in plastic, with another dead horse discovered attached to the rear of a vehicle with a rope tied around its neck.
Officers saw thin horses walking through thick, deep mud that was up to their knees in some places, surrounded by scrap metal, barbed wire, broken fencing and a bonfire containing animal bones.
Further horror awaited the inspectors in a muddy barn. It was filled with sick and starving sheep, cows and pigs, who were all trying to survive living on top of the piles of dead animals.
In one heartbreaking scene, those going into the farm found lambs alive, lying on the bodies of their mothers, mud six inches deep covering the decaying bodies of other animals, and goats that had starved to death.
The inspectors had to undertake a disposal operation of animal carcasses on a scale not seen since the Foot and Mouth crisis 17 years ago.
RSPCA inspectors visited the farm in March 2015 after concerns were raised and on arrival were met with scenes of appalling suffering.
On further visits to the farm, RSPCA inspectors also found more animals in need of help.
There were piles of carcasses throughout the barn amongst the live sheep and dogs kept in small, faeces-filled cages without food or water. They carried out numerous initial visits throughout that summer of 2015 to clear the dead animals and rescue the survivors.
When they returned in April 2016 to check up, they discovered instead of things getting better over the winter, they had got worse.
They found a number of pigs eating a dead sheep, with other pigs in a pig pen eating a dead pig.
Susan Smith (b. circa 1958) was found guilty of a total of 36 individual charges. She was convicted of ten separate charges relating to not disposing of the bodies of dead animals properly, and another 26 ranging from animal cruelty and neglect through to not registering births or using unlicensed feed.
Smith’s employee Mark Downs, (b. circa 1968), from Blands Row in nearby Pilning, was convicted of 22 separate charges relating to animal cruelty, neglect and failure to dispose of bodies.
Smith’s daughter Georgina Blizzard-Smith (born 20/12/1996) was found guilty of two offences relating to two dogs at the farm in April 2016. was also found guilty of two charges of failing to take steps to ensure the needs of two dogs, Angel a golden Labrador, and Savannah, a Border Collie, and causing unnecessary suffering to the collie.
Sue Smith (August 2018): not concluded pending the outcome of an appeal
Georgina Blizzard-Smith (June 2018): deprived of ownership; £500 in costs and £306 in compensation.
Mark Downes: 32 weeks in prison; £1,000 in costs; banned from keeping farm animals – pigs, sheep, goats, horses and cattle – for life.
In 2002 Sue Smith was banned from keeping horses for life alongside then partner and father to her offspring, Brian Blizzard.
The pair had pleaded guilty to three counts of causing unnecessary suffering.
The court heard that RSPCA inspectors first visited Ingst Manor Farm in February 2001.
RSPCA officers described the conditions of the fields at the farm as: “similar to a rice paddy.”
The court was also played video evidence, which was described by the judge as “horrific”. It showed several dead horses lying in muddy fields with waterlogged ditches.
A chestnut mare was found dead in the field, covered in plastic bags. A post mortem revealed she had died of multiple bone fractures, weakened by starvation.
A foal, which later died, was found collapsed and so emaciated that its bones stuck out.
The defence told the court that Smith thought the animals had died after being given food containing ragwort.
Update November 2019: Susan Smith was jailed for 18 months after being convicted of the following charges:
- Ten charges of failing to comply with animal by-product requirement
- Two charges of failing to register an animal for cattle identification
- Failing to produce a cattle passport
- Failing to make available to an inspector an animal welfare record
- Sourcing animal feed from unregistered premises
- Contravening an order of the Minister of State
- Five charges of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal
- Six charges of failing to ensure animal welfare
She denied all but two of the charges.
Judge Euan Ambrose told Smith: “You showed a stubborn intransigence with which you have contested every single aspect of every single charge.”
Smith, who bowed her head for much of the sentence, was banned from keeping all animals for life.
South Gloucestershire Council and the RSPCA are seeking £50,806.61 and £389,911.33 in costs respectively, and that application will be considered by the judge after consideration of written submissions from the defence and prosecution.