Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hollingsworth animal neglect convictions upheld

Photo left: Fizz 16th July 2012. Photo right: Fizz 8th January 2013

On Friday, 20th June 2014, the District Court heard an appeal by Ms Kim Hollingsworth against the "severity" of a sentence imposed by the Local Court in relation to 11 charges against the Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act relating to horses in her care.

In July 2013, the Local Court had convicted Ms Hollingsworth on each of the 11 charges following her entry of pleas of "guilty" at the end of a 7-day hearing.

Ms Hollingsworth subsequently made an application to the District Court to reverse her plea and appeal the convictions.  That application was refused, and the District Court appeal was then limited to whether the "severity" of the Local Court's sentence was appropriate.

The convictions and orders of the Local Court were confirmed by the District Court.  These included orders for Ms Hollingsworth to pay animal care costs of $127,685.18, and allowing the 11 seized horses and 1 foal born in custody to be rehoused by RSPCA.  The seized horses have been deemed suitable for rehoming and will be made available for adoption.

A prohibition order placed on Ms Hollingsworth by the Local Court, prohibiting her from owning more than 20 horses for two years, was also confirmed by the District Court.

Charges:

  • Failure to provide veterinary treatment to 12 horses on a Wilton property – poor body condition
  • Failure to provide veterinary treatment to three horses on a Cobbitty property - poor body condition
  • Failure to provide veterinary treatment to 11 horses on a Mulgoa property – poor body condition
  • Failure to provide veterinary treatment to 11 horses on a Wilton property – worm burden
  • Failure to provide veterinary treatment to seven horses on a Cobbitty property – worm burden
  • Failure to provide veterinary treatment to 13 horses on a Mulgoa property – worm burden
  • Failure to provide veterinary treatment to a Bay mare named ‘Flame’
  • Failure to provide veterinary treatment to Bay gelding named ‘Harry’
  • Failure to provide proper and sufficient food to a Bay mare named ‘Flame’
  • Failure to provide proper and sufficient food to a Bay mare named ‘Sally’
  • Failure to provide proper and sufficient food to four horses on a Mulgoa property

Key facts

On Friday 10 February 2012 RSPCA Inspectors were called to a property at Cobbitty after receiving a complaint about horses on the property. Upon arrival Inspectors spoke with Ms Hollingsworth and a number of horses were identified and examined.

On Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 July 2012 an inspection of three properties on which Ms Hollingsworth kept horses resulted in the seizure of 11 animals on veterinary advice.

26 horses in Ms Hollingsworth’s care were determined by veterinary examination to be severely underweight with a body condition score of 1.5 or lower.

31 horses in Ms Hollingsworth’s care were also found to be suffering from intestinal parasites (worm burden).

Whilst in the RSPCA’s care, some of the more underweight horses increased their body weight and body condition significantly (see photos opposite).

Plea and court judgement

The convictions imposed by the Local Court in relation to 11 charges against the Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act were confirmed. RSPCA may rehouse the 11 seized horses and 1 foal born in custody. Ms Hollingsworth must dispose of all horses except 20 of which she is a person in charge, and must not purchase, acquire, or take possession of any horse for a period of two years.

Ms Hollingsworth was ordered to pay;

  • RSPCA's costs of the prosecution and application to reverse her plea;
  • $10,896.20 in Witness Expenses; and
  • $127,685.15 in veterinary treatment and agistment expenses.

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