TWIN sisters wept as they told a court they would never knowingly let horses in their care starve to death.
Kathryn Cartwright, of Rosvara Avenue, Westergate, and Helen Cartwright, of Pagham Road, Bognor Regis, both shed tears as they were made to recall the scene where three of their horses were euthanised in February, 2013.
Their father Colin Cartwright, 64, of Oakwood Close, Tangmere, is charged alongside them as the trio all deny four charges of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, as well as a string of animal welfare charges. Mr Cartwright has decided not to give evidence.
His 22-year-old daughters, who studied equine management, both told Chichester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (March 3) they had doubled the animals’ food for the winter months.
“It was more just common sense,” said Helen Cartwright.
“It was winter, some of them were dropping weight so we just gave them more.”
She was asked how she felt when she saw what happened to the horses.
“Obviously quite upset because we loved them,” she told her defence lawyer, Harry MacDonald.
The RSPCA claims the family could have taken further steps to help the animals, which lived in a field at Orchard Caravan Park, off Chichester Road, in Bognor.
Mr MacDonald asked his client if the family wilfully ignored their duty as owners, as alleged by the RSPCA.
“That’s completely untrue,” she said. “Obviously we thought we were doing the right thing or obviously we wouldn’t have done it.”
There were seven horses in the field, which was flooded when the RSPCA arrived.
Four of the horses have been described as being in a ‘particularly bad’ state – three had to be put down.
The family said they looked for a new field for the horses and were feeding them every day, with double rations for the more vulnerable ones.
One of the horses, Sophie, a 28-year-old chestnut mare, had to be put down by a vet in the field, with the court told by the RSPCA there was a ‘complete failure’ to investigate or address the animals’ body condition.
Kathryn Cartwright said: “At the time I didn’t think we were doing anything wrong,” adding she was ‘upset’ and ‘sad’ at the situation.
The court heard the more vulnerable horses had rugs on, which were not removed as it meant the warmth would escape, meaning the family did not realise how thin some of the horses were.
The trial started last year but was delayed after it overran its original time slot. It should conclude this week.