Sentences Handed to Peterborough Trio who Ignored the Suffering of Six Ponies

A mother and her daughter who allowed their ponies to continue suffering from such chronic laminitis that two of them had to be put to sleep have received suspended prison sentences.

Teresa O’Rourke (55) of Oxney Road, Peterborough, her daughter Sarah O’Rourke (22) of Saltmarsh, Peterborough and Christopher Kenneally (54) of The Parade, Stanground appeared in Peterborough Magistrates Court on 2nd February for sentencing under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act.  Mr Kenneally pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, whilst the O’Rourke’s changed their plea to guilty at the last minute on the first day of the trial.

Palomino Shetland, Pamela, her mother Lucy, as well as mother and daughter Carly and Prancer, came to World Horse Welfare when a concerned member of the public called our Welfare Line about the group. “I could see immediately that five of the six ponies were showing signs of laminitis but unfortunately Mrs O’Rourke would not allow us to enter the property to inspect them more closely,” said World Horse Welfare Field Officer Jacko Jackson, who was first on the scene.

Jacko returned the following day with the police, RSPCA and a vet and all six ponies were removed on welfare grounds. “Sadly two of the ponies, Chester and Tara, had such chronic laminitis that they were put to sleep – it would have been impossible for them to make a pain-free recovery,” explains Jacko who said he had never come across so many horses suffering from laminitis at the same time in one location. “The grazing was very lush and there was no indication that it was being restricted or that the ponies were being treated. They were all very obviously in pain and some were unable to move at all,” he said.

Mrs O’Rourke was given a 12 week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, a 6 month supervision order with probation, banned for 10 years from keeping equines and given a Deprivation Order as well as ordered to pay £500 costs. Her daughter Sarah O’Rourke had the suspended sentence she was already serving for an unrelated conviction extended by 6 months, was given 200 hours of unpaid community service which must be served within 12 months, ordered to pay £500 costs and she received a 2 year disqualification from keeping equines as well as a Deprivation Order.

Mr Kenneally was given 120 hours of unpaid community service which must be served within 12 months, ordered to pay £300 costs, was handed a 2 year disqualification from keeping any animal and a Deprivation Order. The Deprivation Orders mean that ownership of all of the ponies involved in the case was legally given to World Horse Welfare.

Thankfully Pamela, Carly, Lucy and Prancer are all making good progress at Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre.  RSPCA inspector Caroline O’Riordan said “It is important that anyone taking on the care of any horse make sure they have the resources and means to take care of them properly and make sure their needs are being met. They can, at times, need expensive veterinary care, as well as a suitable environment and a proper diet.”

Jacko, who attended the case as a witness, commented: “Watching and listening to Mrs O’Rourke there was absolutely no remorse, which is something the judge commented on and is the most disappointing outcome.”

FEB15 News Peterborough case