#TheList Courtney Layton, aged 19, of no fixed abode, and partner Ian Tait, 45, of Dover Road, Stockton – left horses starving in deplorable conditions
Layton , whom her lawyer described as “vulnerable”, and Tait both pleaded guilty to animal neglect charges between March 11 and April 1, 2018.
Their horses had been kept in shocking conditions at an allotments in Port Clarence, with one horse laying in thick mud and another so skinny an RSPCA inspector could feel his spine, ribs, pelvic bones and shoulder blades through his thick coat.
John Ellwood, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, outlined the squalid conditions inspectors saw when they visited the allotment where the animals were found.
He said: “In the gaps and at the entrance to the make-shift stable there were exposed nails and wire which would present a hazard to the horses.
“While the inspector was on site Harley got his feet caught in a pallet and had to be released. There were no dry areas, no grass, no hay, no adequate shelter and no bedding.”
He added: “The entire allotment was thick with wet mud and faeces. There was lots of rubble, broken glass, wire and a long piece of barbed wire on the floor.”
All the animals were later seen by a vet who confirmed that the conditions the animals had been kept in were totally unsuitable for horses.
“The vet’s opinion is that Blaze and Little Man had been starved to the point of emaciation and were clearly suffering,” Mr Ellwood added.
Blaze and Little Man belonged to Layton, while Dinky and Harley were Tait’s horses.
The court heard how attention was first drawn to the allotment when the pony Blaze was seen to be collapsed on the floor.
Members of the public had been feeding him and alerted the RSPCA.
An inspector later found the pony lying in thick wet mud on his right side, making no effort to lift his head or stand up.
The court was told in mitigation that Layton had been heavily pregnant when the offence occurred and had struggled to go up to look after the horses each day.
Danielle Hewitt, defending, said Layton, a mother-of-two, is a “vulnerable person” and “remorseful” for her actions.
The court was told she had been dealing with “a number of issues in her personal life” and that she has suffered with depression for as long as she can remember.
She added that the horses had only been kept at the allotments “temporarily”.
Discussing Tait, Ms Hewitt said he had only kept his horses at the allotment for one night.
After care from the RSPCA, the horses have made a full recovery and are now free from parasites. The two starved horses – Blaze and Little Man – have now reached a normal weight.
Layton was jailed for 18 weeks for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. She was also given a 12 week jail sentence for failing to meet the needs of the horses, which will run concurrently.
Taitwas given a 12 week jail term for failing to meet the needs of the horses.
The pair were also disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years (expires August 2028).