Sta­bles owner cleared over cru­elty charges

Sher­iff ‘favourably im­pressed’ by de­fence ev­i­dence af­ter two-year trial

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - CRAIG SMITH [email protected]­courier.co.uk

A Fife sta­bles owner who had been ac­cused of ne­glect­ing her horses so badly that two of them had to be de­stroyed has been cleared of all charges against her.

Jackie Kemp, 53, was found not guilty of caus­ing un­nec­es­sary suf­fer­ing to three horses and fail­ing to pro­vide suitable con­di­tions at Bal­mule Farm and Wester Dean­head, near Dun­fermline, be­tween Novem­ber 20 2015 and Fe­bru­ary 20 2016.

Kemp, who has been in­volved with horses from an early age, had al­ways de­nied the five charges against her af­ter the Scot­tish SPCA seized the three an­i­mals, Beano, Bro­gan and Molly.

She pre­vi­ously told a court she had been “hor­ri­fied” to learn Bro­gan and Molly had been put down on vets’ ad­vice.

The trial at Dun­fermline Sher­iff Court lasted for around two years and has seen a num­ber of wit­nesses give ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing Kemp her­self.

Sher­iff Christo­pher Shead said he had been “favourably im­pressed” by the ev­i­dence given by de­fence wit­nesses and ac­quit­ted Kemp on all charges.

De­pute fis­cal Dev Ka­pa­dia had sought to prove Kemp had caused un­nec­es­sary suf­fer­ing to the horses.

Two vets sug­gested the an­i­mals had been ema­ci­ated and that Kemp had failed to pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate and ad­e­quate nutri­tion and care and treat­ment for worms, skin con­di­tions, lice in­fes­ta­tion, rain scald, hoof cracks and den­tal prob­lems.

Mr Ka­pa­dia also sug­gested Kemp had per­haps de­lib­er­ately set out to starve the horses to save money.

Sher­iff Shead said he “re­jected that line of at­tack”, af­ter hear­ing from a num­ber of wit­nesses who kept horses at the farms and had no con­cerns over the en­vi­ron­ment they were be­ing kept in.

De­fence solic­i­tor Philip McWil­liams said the ev­i­dence of those wit­nesses had been “very cred­i­ble” and “re­in­forced rather than di­luted” Kemp’s in­no­cence.

He also sug­gested there had been in­con­sis­ten­cies and con­tra­dic­tions in the Crown case, adding that vets who gave ev­i­dence against Kemp had been guilty of “ex­ag­ger­a­tion”. “They used words which were de­signed to present alarm in the court­room,” he said.

The court heard Kemp had been cleared in court of other ne­glect charges a num­ber of years ago af­ter the Scot­tish SPCA raised a sim­i­lar in­ves­ti­ga­tion and that she had felt “in­tim­i­dated” and ha­rassed by in­spec­tors.

Af­ter Bro­gan, Molly and Beano were seized, Mr McWil­liams said it was “bizarre” that Scot­tish SPCA rep­re­sen­ta­tives had not called for any is­sues with the en­vi­ron­ment to be ad­dressed, since dozens of other horses were kept on the farms.

The court also heard there had been no fol­low-up visit.

“If there was a con­cern about the en­vi­ron­ment, one would ex­pect the SSPCA to re­turn to the loci,” Mr McWil­liams added.

Sher­iff Shead told Kemp it was the court’s duty to give peo­ple who are ac­cused of crimes the ben­e­fit of rea­son­able doubt and found her not guilty on all counts.

Jackie Kemp had de­nied charges she caused un­nec­es­sary suf­fer­ing to three horses and that view was backed up by a sher­iff.

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