Court: Peterborough woman who ill-treated ponies given ban

Some of the ponies. Image supplied by RSPCA
Some of the ponies. Image supplied by RSPCA
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A woman who mistreated ponies in her care has been banned from keeping horses - 11 years after receiving a similar ban.

Teresa O’Rourke (55), of Oxney Road, Peterborough, was given a ten-year ban after RSPCA inspectors found a number of horses which had been neglected in a field in the city.

O’Rourke has been used by Cambridgeshire police in the past to deal with horses on the loose on city roads, looking after the animals until their owner is found,the court heard.

On Monday, 2 February she appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court with her daughter Sara O’Rourke (22) of Saltmarsh, Peterborough and friend Christopher Kenneally (54) of The Parade, Stanground.

All three pleaded had guilty to offences under the Animal Welfare Act relating to six ponies.

The RSPCA was called with concern about these ponies in April 2014 and found them all suffering from laminitis - which affects the hooves of animals - and with hooves requiring trimming, some of which were very visibly lame. One of the horses was so ill it had to be put down.

Eamonn Hurley-Flynn, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said the problems were probably caused by the wrong diet.

The court was told in 2004 Teresa O’Rourke had been convicted of a similar offence.

At that hearing she was banned from keeping horses for life - but the ban was later reduced to three years on appeal. She had also been jailed for two months.

She also worked with disabled children, giving them experience of riding horses.

After the hearing, RSPCA inspector Caroline O’Riordan said: “This was a very high number of horses to all have laminitis in one field - there is no doubt they were suffering.

“It is important that anyone taking on the care of any horse makes sure they have the resources and means to take care of them properly and make sure their needs are being met. They can at times need expensive veterinary care, as well as a suitable environment and proper diet.”

Teresa O’Rourke was disqualified from keeping horses for ten years, given a 12 week jail term suspended for 12 months, a supervision order for six months, and ordered to pay costs of £500. Kenneally was disqualified from keeping all animals for two years, given 120 hours community service and made to pay costs of £300.

Sara O’Rourke was disqualified from keeping equines for two years, was given 200 hours community service, and made to pay costs of £500.

No-one from Cambridgeshire police was available for comment.