Horse sanctuary anger at judge's order

A Norfolk charity has reacted with anger after a court ordered that 29 donkeys and ponies be returned to a family accused of causing unnecessary suffering to more than 100 animals in their care.

A Norfolk charity has reacted with anger after a court ordered that 29 donkeys and ponies be returned to a family accused of causing unnecessary suffering to more than 100 animals in their care. The International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH), based in Snetterton, said it was “appalled” at the decision made by Oxford Magistrates' Court on Friday to return the animals to the Gray family.

RSPCA staff and vets removed 125 animals from Spindle Farm, Hyde Heath, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, in January.

Some 21 horses, ponies and donkeys were taken to Redwings Horse Sanctuary at Hapton near Long Stratton and 11 others

were taken into the care of the ILPH.


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James Gray, 44, Julie Gray, 40, Cordelia Gray, 19, and Jodie Gray, 25, all of Spindle Farm, have denied 12 charges of animal cruelty.

Deputy district judge Sandeep Kainth agreed to return 29 donkeys and ponies considered pets but rejected the family's application to have the remaining 82 animals returned. These animals will instead be sold at auction in May in Warwickshire.

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The RSPCA had argued that it should be allowed to oversee the

re-homing of the animals in order to safeguard their future welfare.

Following the hearing, Tony Tyler, deputy chief executive of the ILPH said: “Having to return the horses is the worst possible situation for our yard staff who have spent the last three months looking after them and giving them the care and treatment they deserve. We will be working closely with the RSPCA to do everything possible to get this decision reversed.”

The case was adjourned until April 28 when it will be heard at the same court.

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