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Man pleads guilty for suffering caused to foal in heart-breaking horse welfare case

Man pleads guilty for suffering

13 May 2021

A man has today, Wednesday 12 May, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a foal at a trial at King’s Lynn magistrates court.

The court heard today how the defendant Mr Oliver Jones, 31, formerly of Leys Lane, Attleborough, and currently of Somerville, Peterborough, severely neglected a foal. A vet who examined the emaciated horse found it was suffering multiple health issues caused by the neglect.

Mr Jones was sentenced to 10 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months, and has been banned from keeping horses for 20 years.

Sophie Leney, Head of Norfolk County Council Trading Standards said “This is a satisfactory outcome of a very sad case. It’s very welcome that Mr Oliver Jones will be disqualified from owning or keeping horses following the neglect and suffering he caused. In this extreme case there was no choice but to seize the animals immediately and take them to a place of safety. We would like to thank World Horse Welfare for their invaluable assistance in this matter”.

World Horse Welfare contacted the Norfolk County Council Trading Standards team on 29 July 2019. Due to the nature of the concerns, council officers, alongside World Horse Welfare, visited a site near Attleborough on 30 July 2019.

Officers found a mare and foal in a small paddock containing 13 horses. There was no grass, the area was full of muck, and had rubbish lying around. A vet who examined the pair at the scene was so concerned they were immediately taken away for emergency treatment.

A thorough inspection identified multiple health issues caused by a failure to seek veterinary advice on nutrition, worming, basic care, and for the malformation of the foal’s legs. Sadly, the mother of the foal had been severely affected by the neglect causing a chronic heart defect which later led to her sudden death. Happily the foal, now named Hercules, has recovered well in the care of World Horse Welfare.

Today’s judgement also saw Norfolk County Council Trading Standards granted a deprivation order giving the service the ownership of the foal – which will hopefully now be rehomed by World Horse Welfare.

Jacko Jackson of World Horse Welfare, said: “Although this is great result, and Oliver Jones finally pleaded guilty, it has been a frustrating two years to get to this point. For the first two years of his life, as part of an on-going prosecution, World Horse Welfare were only allowed to offer maintenance care to little Hercules once he had been recovered to a healthy weight. Now that the case is over he can be gelded and his education can begin, with the aim for him to be offered for rehoming in the future, where he can lead the life he deserves.”

If you find a welfare issue on a farm report it to our partners Citizens Advice immediately on 0808 223 1133.

The outcome

In addition to the guilty verdict the court also disqualified Mr Jones from owning animals, keeping animals, participating in the keeping of animals, being party to an arrangement under which he is entitled to control or influence the way in which animals are kept, dealing in animals, transporting animals and arranging for the transport of animals. The order is in respect of all equines for 20 years.

Norfolk County Council Trading Standards also obtained a deprivation order giving the service the ownership of the foal.

The Court awarded the county council £5,000 in costs (which have to be paid within 2 years). Mr Jones was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £122.


  • Norfolk County Council Trading Standards contacted by World Horse Welfare on 29 July 2019
  • Multi-agency visit carried out 30 July 2019
  • Horses were seized on 30 July 2019
  • Formal investigation started on 4 August 2019
  • The first court hearing of the case was on 4 February 2020
  • Trial started 12 May 2021

The offences

  • Two offences contrary to Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, by failing to provide basic care and failing to seek veterinary advice in relation to feeding/nutrition and worming and that Mr Jones knew or ought reasonably to have known that such failure would have the effect of causing unnecessary suffering or be likely to do so. A further offence contrary to Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for causing unnecessary suffering to the foal by failing to provide veterinary care for severe malformation of the carpal joint and hind fetlocks of the animal
  • Defendant previously pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to keep an equine namely a dark bay/black mare without the required identification documentation (horse passports) – contrary to Article 3(1) of EC reg 504/2008 by virtue of S2(1) European Communities Act 1972

The foal, now named Hercules, is pictured in July 2019 and in May 2021.