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Indefinite ban for pair who neglected horses
AN author who wrote books about horsekeeping but let her own animals live in squalid conditions has been banned from keeping horses indefinitely.
Lesley Skipper, 61, and her husband Brian, 56, of Durham Road, Stockton, had denied four counts of causing unnecessary suffering to their horses and two charges of failing to ensure the animals’ welfare, but were found guilty on all counts.
An RSPCA investigation found that two of the horses at the couple’s stables in Sadberge Lane, Middleton St George, were suffering from the chronic foot disease laminitis, while another had severe dental problems.
One of the horses, an Arab stallion named Nivalis, had to be put down on site while a further two were put down several weeks later.
Mrs Skipper has written several equine books, including Understanding the Arabian Horse and Realise Your Horses’ True Potential, but RSPCA inspectors found that her own animals were sleeping in stables lined with more than 18 inches of dirty bedding and the couple had failed to get veterinary treatment for the horses’ ailments.
They both appeared before Darlington Magistrates’ Court yesterday where their defence lawyer, Ann Marie Gregory, pleaded that any ban should relate only to horses because there was no evidence that the couple had ever neglected their other animals.
Miss Gregory said: “These people are in their late 50s, early 60s and there is no suggestion that they have neglected any other animals.
“They have dogs and cats at home. I ask that they can keep the dogs and cats, bearing in mind it is the first offence and bearing in mind the difficulties they have had.”
The court had previously heard that Mr Skipper suffers from bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder and that the couple were suffering from flu when the bedding became too difficult to clear out by hand.
Presiding magistrate Les Abbott banned them from keeping horses indefinitely and imposed a deprivation order in favour of the RSPCA, meaning that a fourth horse will stay under the charity’s care. The couple were also ordered to pay £250 each towards court costs.
Speaking after the sentence, RSPCA inspector Ruth Coxon said: “We are really pleased with the sentencing.
We strove for a ban. That is what we took them to court for and that is what we have got.
“The fact that it is an indefinite ban is really good news to protect future animals from suffering in their hands.”