Couple who left deer to starve at Norfolk stately home banned from keeping them
PUBLISHED: 13:57 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:03 20 March 2019
A couple who left a herd of deer to starve in a field have been banned from keeping the animals for two years.
Benjamin Rudge and Olena Lobunets left 14 fallow deer in a paddock at Clermont Hall, near Watton, without food or shelter through the worst of the Beast from the East.
RSPCA inspectors found one deer had died and another had collapsed when they visited the property in February 2018. The collapsed animal and three others subsequently died.
King’s Lynn magistrates found the case proven against Rudge and Lobunets in their absence on two counts each of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal at a hearing last month.
One count related to five deer that died of malnutrition, the other to the conditions the animals had been kept in.
Today a deprivation order was made to pass ownership of the surviving deer to the RSPCA.
Rudge, 43 and Lobunets, whose age was not given in court, were also banned from keeping the animals for two years.
No costs were awarded and no further penalties were ordered against the couple, whose address was given as Richard Foster Road, Cambridge.
At an earlier hearing Jonathan Eales, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said a housekeeper was employed to look after the property and the fallow deer but he did not have money for animal feed.
He said the animal welfare charity visited the hall, at Little Cressingham, after it was contacted by walkers concerned at the condition of the deer.
Inspectors found the animals were emaciated, while their pen was bare of any grass and infested with molehills when they attended on February 17, 2018.
RSPCA workers began visiting to feed the animals, but three more died.
“Once a deer crosses a certain threshold with malnutrition, you can’t bring it back no matter how hard you try,” Mr Eales told the court. “The deer is doomed from that point.”
Mr Eales said when interviewed Rudge and Lobunets denied there was any problem with the herd. The couple no longer lease the hall.