A Limavady man has received a suspended sentence and banned from keeping horses for five years in an animal cruelty cases.
Francis McWilliams of the Kilhoyle Road, Drumsurn area, was sentenced at Coleraine Magistrates’ Court on Friday after he pleaded guilty to causing the unnecessary suffering of a chestnut horse and failing to ensure the welfare of three other horses on the Boleran Road in Garvagh.
An investigation by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Animal Welfare Officer found a number of horses in a poor condition at a field in Garvagh, with their ribs, spines and pelvic bones protruding.
After no owner presented themselves after seven days despite cards being left, a vet ordered they were taken into the Council’s possession after concluding they were suffering from malnutrition and were in a poor physical condition.
Deputy District Judge Connolly sentenced McWilliams to eight months imprisonment, suspended for three years, and awarded total costs of £7,267 to the council.
The defendant was also banned from keeping horses for five years.
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Richard Holmes, commented: “Images of animals in such distress will tug at everyone’s heartstrings. Thankfully such cases are few and far between and the public should be assured that Council’s Animal Welfare Officers will act promptly to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare are upheld at all times.
“Council gives a high priority to the welfare of domestic pets and horses and operates a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements. Complaints are investigated thoroughly and where necessary formal action is taken, which may include the service of Improvement Notices, or in extreme cases, seizure of animals. The Council may also prosecute for offences such as in this case which I hope serves as a warning to anyone who does not take appropriate care of animals.”