James Gray was found guilty of the worst case of animal
cruelty seen by the RSPCA.
trader who went on the run while awaiting sentence for what the
RSPCA described as the worst case of animal cruelty it had even seen
started an eight-month jail sentence today. James Gray, who ill-treated
more than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys on his family's farm, was arrested
after being stopped by police during a random check on the M5 near Bromsgrove,
46-year-old had absconded from Aylesbury crown court, Buckinghamshire, two
weeks ago, and was
given a 26-week prison sentence in his absence. Today, he was given
an extra eight weeks' jail by the same court for breaking his bail conditions.
imprisonment comes after lengthy court proceedings that followed the discovery
by the RSPCA and police of dead
and emaciated horses at Spindles Farm, at High Heath, near Amersham.
RSPCA chief inspector Rob Skinner said: "This is such an appalling
and shocking case, not just because of the terrible suffering the animals
endured, but because of the lack of compassion shown by members of the family
who seemed to think it was OK to sit back and watch it happen." Thanking
West Mercia police for spotting Gray's car using number plate recognition,
he hoped the trader would never own another animal in his lifetime.
investigation cost the RSPCA more than £2.3 million, including veterinary
treatment and care of the rescued horses, who will now be rehomed. The British
Horse Society had previously described the "mistreatment" and
discovered by rescuers in January 2008 as "unprecedented in Britain".
and his teenage son, also called James, had appealed against convictions
and sentencing after being found guilty of 11 charges each under the Animal
Welfare Act 2006 in a trial last year. Gray had been sentenced to 24 weeks'
imprisonment, a sentence that was put on hold. Two of the charges were subsequently
dropped and 17-year-old Gray was acquitted of two other charges following
the appeal. He is now under an 18-month supervision order. Gray Sr was sentenced
to 26 weeks' jail time earlier this month after he left court during a lunch
break. His barrister Michael Fullerton told today's hearing Gray was "overcome
with a set of nerves" at his unsuccessful appeal and acted on the spur
of the moment. Sentencing him, Judge Christopher Tyrer said: "This
is a final act of betrayal of yourself, by yourself."
He had "trusted" Gray to stay in the court building rather than
being sent down into cells while he was considering his sentence. Tyrer
said: "I allowed you to stay in the foyer and not to go outside.
you went down the stairs, past the security guards, who have no power to
stop you. You went to the step to apparently smoke a cigarette, all contrary
to what I had told you you were permitted to do, and ultimately you left."
had described the cruelty at the hearing earlier this month as "the
worst case ever experienced by the RSPCA", and "on a scale that
Gray's wife, Julie, 42, and daughters Jodie, 27, and Cordelia, 21, had each
been found guilty of two animal welfare offences. The women were each given
150-hour community service orders.
Sr was banned from keeping horses, ponies and donkeys for life while his
wife, son and daughters were banned from doing so for 10 years. He has already
been ordered to pay the RSPCA £400,000. A further costs hearing will
take place later this year.
horse abuser arrested 26/5/10 read
convicted horse trader absconds 12/5/10 read