#TheList traveller and habitual criminal Maurice Smith, born c. 1988, of Hawthorn Way, Shepperton TW1 – subjected a horse to prolonged neglect and mistreatment
Maurice Smith, who has a previous conviction for conning a 92-year-old woman out of her life savings, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Gypsy traveller Smith, formerly of Littleton Lane Caravan Park in Shepperton and a drug and alcohol abuser, was charged under the Animal Welfare Act after evidence emerged of how he had subjected the horse, named April, to prolonged neglect and ill-treatment, which had left her in extreme distress.
A number of witnesses initially contacted police in April 2018 to report that the horse was in distress. She had been left double rugged in temperatures of 24 degrees without shade and was sweating profusely.
Police attended the location and decided that April needed immediate medical care and seized her under the Animal Welfare Act.
After a full medical examination by a vet, April was found to be undernourished, with multiple sores, was wearing ill-fitting handmade shoes which were causing her foot pain, and was suffering from worms or a viral infection. The vet said that she had been subjected to poor management and undue suffering.
Smith was identified as April’s owner but initially denied that she belonged to him when he was interviewed. However, he later admitted that she was his and said that he had asked a vet to examine April and that she was being treated with antibiotics. However, he could not provide any details in relation to the treatment April received.
The court heard evidence from a number of witnesses in relation to the lack of care given to April, to which Smith was also unable to provide any explanation.
Investigating officer PC Chloe Hodgkinson said: “This was a complex investigation which took many months to bring to fruition.
“I was called to deal with the incident and was shocked by the pitiful state April was in. Due to her condition, I decided to seize her under the Animal Welfare Act so that she could immediately begin receiving the medical treatment that she needed.
“From speaking to a number of witnesses, it soon became apparent that April had been suffering over a prolonged period. I put a case together against her owner, Maurice Smith, which resulted in him being charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and being brought before the court last week.”
PC Hodgkinson added: “April has since received the care and treatment that she needed and is making a good recovery. I hope that this case will deter other owners from neglecting their animals and send a strong message that if you are caught, you will be dealt with.”
Sentencing: 12 month community order involving 120 hours of unpaid work; total of £485 costs and charges.