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Horton Kirby owner William Cook banned from keeping horses after eight underweight animals die in neglect case branded 'shocking' by RSPCA

A man has been told he is not allowed to keep horses for 10 years after the deaths of eight neglected animals he was supposed to be looking after.

William Cook, 73, allowed 13 horses to suffer through a lack of care - causing two to die from poor health and six be put down by the RSPCA.

Inspectors were called last November following concerns about the state of horses being kept on his land.

Horses owned by William Cook were left severely underweight
Horses owned by William Cook were left severely underweight

The horses - which included stallions, geldings, colts and mares - were kept on Cook's property at Oakview Stud Farm, in Lombard Street, Horton Kirby, and at The Stables in Mead Road, Edenbridge.

The court was told how the bodies of two dead mares had been left in stables by Cook, of Lombard Street, Horton Kirby, for more than two weeks.

One of the mares was identified by RSPCA inspectors to be underweight with its "spine protruding through the coat" and the other was also underweight and had evidence of diarrhoea on its hind legs.

The RSPCA told the pensioner to remove the bodies when they visited Oakview Stud Farm, in December 31 of last year but the bodies were still there by January 10.

The horses in Cook's care were said to have suffered from a number of ailments including worms, mouth ulcers, muscle waste and being severely under weight.

Cook admitted 18 charges in relation to incidents involving 13 horses at Dartford Magistrates' Court.

He was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison - suspended for two years - and ordered to pay costs of £24,656 and a victim surcharge of £80.

Cook was also given a six-month curfew and banned from keeping, transporting and participating in the keeping and transporting of horses for 10 years.

Dartford Magistrates' Court's future is at risk
Dartford Magistrates' Court's future is at risk

Andrew Wyles, for the prosecution, told the court of a vet's description of one of the horses.

He said: "Overgrown misaligned teeth resulted in long sharpened spikes digging into the animal's cheek and there was significant ulceration."

The state of the land Cook kept his horses on was also described as having "poor fencing" with "rubble in the field" used for grazing.

"I've looked after them all my life. I'm sorry it's happened. It's unbelievable and I deserve a punishment..." - William Cook

Four of Cook's horses are currently in RSPCA boarding and one has been re-homed.
Cook told the court he was sorry for the state of the animals.

He said: "I'm guilty for what has happened. I'm sorry for what has happened - I don't know what happened because I've had horses since I was five.

"I've looked after them all my life. I'm sorry it's happened. It's unbelievable and I deserve a punishment. I don't care what it is."

Magistrate Colin Very said: "You said that you have looked after horses since you were five years old, you should have clearly known that these horses were suffering and not being looked after properly."

Speaking after the sentence, RSPCA inspector Andrew Kirby said: "This was a shocking case of horse neglect, and one where many different horses were left to suffer - many of them eventually dying.

"The suffering was incredibly severe and yet the owner was just doing nothing to provide for their needs or their most basic care. Owning a horse is a responsibility and a privilege and one he was just not taking on.

"Although the scale of this particular case was extreme, it is sadly not unusual to find horses left to suffer in this way. It is a crisis we face on a national scale, but the issues seem particularly bad in this area of the country."

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