SEVEN people have been banned from keeping horses for between five and eight years after they left their animals tethered by the roadside.

Under an animal welfare law, York magistrates also handed out punishments and fines to the seven, who all have the surname Smith and live at Outgang Lane caravan site.

They confiscated the seven ponies and horses found alongside three roads in and near the city, including the busy A1079 Hull Road at Dunnington. The animals will be rehomed by the RSPCA.

The prosecutions come after a woman in Dunnington reported repeatedly seeing horses and ponies tethered by the roadside over a three-month period last winter.

Phil Brown, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told magistrates the ponies and horses were left with inadequate food and no water in unsuitable places.

In some cases they were tethered near broken glass or rubbish, their ropes or chains had got entangled round bushes or other items or their collars or stakes did not comply with Government best practice.

One pony had a rope tied so tightly round its head it had dug into its skin and two others had sores on their bodies which appeared not to have been treated.

Senior magistrate Bernard Everitt, sitting with two colleagues, said: “In sentencing, we are making the protection of animals our priority.”

He told the defendants: “They are all are serious offences of animal cruelty. If you breach the orders for keeping horses, breach the community orders or fail to pay, you will be brought back to court and could receive a custodial sentence.”

Lawyers for the seven said they loved their animals, had provided them with food and water and cared for them.

Confiscation would be a financial as well as emotional loss because they were worth hundreds of pounds each and were an important part of the travelling community culture to which they all belong.

The tethering had been either as a temporary measure or for a very limited period and the defendants needed education rather than prosecution.

• An eighth defendant, Deborah Smith, 22, of Outgang Lane Caravan Site, admitted three offences relating to the welfare of a Staffordshire bull terrier at Outgang Lane caravan site and was fined £250 with £250 costs and £15 victim surcharge and given a five-year ban from keeping dogs.


The sentences

The defendants, who all live at Outgang Lane caravan site, York, all pleaded guilty and were sentenced as below.

All were banned from keeping horses for five years, except Frankie Smith senior, who was banned for eight years. Eric Bristow Smith was also banned from keeping dogs for five years.

• Edith Annie Smith, 24; five offences, 200 hours’ unpaid work, £250 costs

• Eric Bristow Smith, 27; one offence involving a horse and three offences with Deborah Smith involving a dog, 280 hours’ unpaid work, must pay £250 costs.

• Iris Smith, 56; one offence, £250 fine, must pay £250 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

• Frankie Smith junior, 20; one offence, 100 hours’ unpaid work, £100 costs.

• Frankie Smith senior, 58; one offence, 100 hours’ unpaid work.

• Alan Smith, 51; two offences, £250 fine, £250 costs and £15 victim surcharge, five-year ban from keeping horses.

• Betty Smith, 66; two offences, two-year conditional discharge, must pay £250 costs, five-year ban from keeping horses.


Where the horses were found

• A1079 Hull Road at Dunnington, three ponies on February 14, Frankie Smith senior, Frankie Smith junior, Iris Smith, Eric Bristow Smith and Edith Annie Smith admitted responsibility.

• Holtby Lane, between Holtby and Stockton-on-the-Forest. Two horses on March 27.

The RSPCA had warned some of the defendants a week earlier to improve the horses’ situation after four horses were tethered by the roadside on March 18. Alan and Betty Smith admitted responsibility.

• Windmill Lane, on land near David Lloyd Leisure Centre, Two horses on July 12. Edith Annie Smith admitted responsibility.