Prison sentence for horse cruelty

A Romany gipsy who had horsekeeping "in his blood" was start-ing a four-month jail term last night follow-ing his third animal cruelty conviction in as many years.

A Romany gipsy who had horsekeeping "in his blood" was start-ing a four-month jail term last night follow-ing his third animal cruelty conviction in as many years.

Clonus Jones, of Shelfanger Road, Diss, was found guilty last month of causing unnecessary suffering to a pregnant horse, which had a rotting wound caused by an ill-fitting head collar.

Magistrates at Thetford yesterday sentenced the 53-year-old to four months in jail and extended his ban from keeping horses to 15 years following "prolonged" and "multiple neglect to horses".

His son-in-law Jason Shaw, 22, of Ladbrooke Close, Diss, who co-owned the black cob mare, was banned from keeping horses for three years and ordered to complete a five-month curfew order and do 100 hours' unpaid work in the community.

The court heard that the RSPCA and other equine welfare agencies attended the Water Meadows, off Rose Lane, Diss, on November 21 last year to remove a number of horses that were grazing illegally.

Hayley Saunders, prosecuting, said one of the animals in particular had a rope tied across its nose, which had caused an open and weeping wound. She added that RSPCA costs and legal fees came to £9,750 for the cruelty case.

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The court heard that Jones had been banned from keeping horses for 12 months in 2004 after neglecting a black pony and was given a 10-year ban in July, which was upheld by a Norwich Crown Court appeal hearing last week, after failing to act on a bay stallion with a rotting gash to its neck.

Jones had previously denied owning the horse in his latest animal cruelty case and Shaw had admitted three counts of permitting unnecessary suffering by failing to ensure the pregnant mare's hooves were trimmed, that its nylon rope collar did not cause injury and fail-ing to provide adequate veterinary treatment.

Malcolm Plummer, who issued an appeal to the four-month sentence but failed to get bail for his client, said Jones had been looking after horses for 45 years, but the traditional Romany lifestyle had been threatened by the rapidly shrinking availably of grazing land, which led to a "breakdown of care". "Keeping horses is in his blood and the 10-year ban was the worst thing that could have happened to him and more serious than going to prison."

He said Shaw had never looked after a horse before and had no plans of owning one again.

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