Family cleared of Bognor Regis animal neglect charges

Chichester Magistrates' Court
Chichester Magistrates' Court

AN ANIMAL lover has told of ‘two years of hell’ caused by the RSPCA trying to prove her family neglected horses in their care.

Kathryn Cartwright, 22, her twin sister Helen Cartwright and their father Colin Cartwright, 64, were cleared of 11 out of 12 charges each at Chichester Magistrates’ Court this afternoon (March 6) and received a conditional discharge on the final one.

We know the girls love horses – we’ve had no doubt about that since day one of this case

David Harmston, magistrate

“It’s been two years of hell and we’re very pleased and relieved it’s all over,” said Kathryn Cartwright, of Rosvara Avenue, Westergate, after the verdict.

“We’re very grateful for the magistrate’s words that he recognises that we’re no danger to any animals.”

Chairman of the bench David Harmston and his two fellow magistrates found the horses had not been neglected by the family when they were found in a field at the Orchard Caravan Park, off Chichester Road, in Bognor Regis.

“We take it as a one-off event that’s unlikely to be repeated. We know the girls love horses – we’ve had no doubt about that since day one of this case,” he said.

“We’re sure they will be good people working with horses in the future.”

He dismissed the RSPCA’s attempt to have the family banned from looking after horses, saying ‘lessons had been learned’.

“We don’t feel that there’s any real risk to any animals being cared for by any of these defendants in the future,” he said.

Mr Cartwright, of Oakwood Close, Tangmere, was found not guilty of four charges of causing unnecessary suffering to animals, as well as seven animal welfare charges. He was jointly charged with his two daughters Kathryn Cartwright and Helen Cartwright, of Pagham Road, Bognor Regis, both of whom were found not guilty of the same 11 charges.

The horses were spotted by a member of the public in the field, which was described by Mr Harmston as a ‘quagmire’.

The defence case said the family had been actively seeking a new field for the horses before the RSPCA arrived on February 13, 2013.

Earlier this week, the court heard the sisters recall how upset they were at what had happened.

The family were found guilty of not taking all reasonable steps to ensure the needs of the horses were met regarding their environment.

David Buck, representing the RSPCA, had asked magistrates for total costs of £7,100, however this was knocked down to £115 each by the magistrates.

Seven horses were found by the RSPCA in the field, with three euthanised. The remaining four have made a full recovery.

Some RSPCA evidence had to be thrown out after magistrates agreed with the defence there were failings in the way evidence was collected.