Fife stables owner cleared of causing suffering to horses
A stables owner has been cleared of causing unnecessary suffering to horses, after a long-running trial.
Horses were removed from the stables of Jackie Kemp during a raid by the SSPCA with two of the animals subsequently being put down.
The raid took place almost three years ago in February 2016. After today’s verdict, a visibly relieved Ms Kemp did not want to comment.
However, her solicitor Philip McWilliams said, “She’s feeling very emotional. She’s extremely happy about the verdict but extremely unhappy about this being brought to court in the first place.
“This case has been very stressful and has had an impact on her health and also on her finances.”
The allegations involved incidents at Balmule Farm and another location, both near Dunfermline.
Ms Kemp (53) was accused of causing unnecessary suffering to a mare named Brogan and a gelding called Beano at Wester Denhead, Roscobie, between 20th November 2015 and 20th February 2016.
She was also accused causing unnecessary suffering to a mare named Molly at Balmule Farm between 21st November 2015 and 21st February 2016.
Sheriff Chris Shead found Ms Kemp not guilty of all charges at the end of a trial which began in May.
The horses involved were taken into the care of Scottish SPCA and the two mares were later destroyed.
Vet Chris Calder (35), a lecturer in equine practice at Edinburgh University, had told the court he had carried out examinations of the horses.
He said Beano was “incredibly underweight” and had a number of ailments as did the other two.
Brogan had bacterial infection on the skin of her back, rump and hind quarters.
The witness said he was called back to treat Brogan on 26th February 2016. “She was lying flat on the ground, groaning, thrashing around on the floor and her eyes were rolling. She was showing signs of extreme pain,” he said.
The horse was unable to get up and despite various drugs being given continued to be in distress. After three hours, the vet decided with the agreement of the SSPCA that the horse should be euthanased.
The same sad fate befell Molly. In his report on this horse, Mr Calder said she was “extremely under-weight” apparently because of “a severe lack of feeding” and had a “horrendously thin body condition”.
On 21st February 2016, the vet was called out after Molly’s condition worsened and she was unable to stand up.
“She was quite relaxed at first but started to get more distressed as she couldn’t get up. It seemed like her hind legs weren’t working,” said the witness.
During her evidence Ms Kemp said that was “horrified” and “distressed” following the SSPCA’s actions.
“Were you given an explanation?” asked Mr McWilliams.
“No nobody spoke to me,” she answered.
She said she had owned Brogan for 17 years. “We’re in the fortunate position that the herd is important to us and I believe everything has a value in life.”
She said Brogan was “absolutely the correct weight”.
Ms Kemp said evidence from Crown witnesses about horses having rain scald and lice was completely untrue.
Sheriff Chris Shead said it was an “unusual case” in that the expert witnesses did not agree on the condition of the animals.
He noted, “There seems to be a background between the SSPCA and Ms Kemp in the past.”
The sheriff said he was “favourably impressed” by the defence’s expert and lay witnesses.
He wondered if statements from these witnesses had been taken by the SSPCA and described the case as having “a long and difficult procedural history”.
He added that if there were “shortcomings” in the handling of the case they should be “identified and acted upon for the future”.