Submitted by National Equine Database

February 2012

Thinking of putting your retired horse out on loan as a companion?

If so STOP and take time to read this cautionary tale:

City of York Council’s Animal Health Service has just concluded an investigation, following complaints about a rogue horse dealer in 2010. In 2011, the defendant pleaded guilty to the offences and was sent to the Crown Court where she was sentenced after pleading guilty to two offences of fraud, and one of trading without professional diligence (trading unfairly).

The defendant, Miss Lee, sold a horse for £1,837.50 at a local livestock market as ‘good to do in every way’, but she knew the horse was lame. Officers contacted the previous owners who were shocked to hear that the horse had been sold. They had given the horse to Lee just five days earlier on the understanding that the horse would have a permanent home as a companion for her filly.

Officers then began investigating other horses that Miss Lee had acquired. A pattern emerged and a further four horse owners told officers that Miss Lee, using different names, had tricked them into letting her take their horse, believing it would be given a permanent home. In one case the horse was taken to market a few days later where it was sold for £480 and slaughtered. Miss Lee continued to misinform the previous owner saying that she still had the horse with her in the field.

Matt Boxall, Trading Standards Manager at City of York Council, said, “Miss Lee tricked people into giving her their retired horses – which at their stage in life, needed to take things easy. The lies she told led the owners to believe they were doing the right thing for their animals, that they would be loved and cared for forever. Instead they were simply sold on to unsuspecting customers. All of the complainants have described their devastation upon finding out their horses had been treated this way”.

Miss Lee was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and to 220 hours unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay £750 in prosecution costs.