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Amersham update: James Gray goes on the run as family lose appeal
James Gray (46), his wife Julie Gray (42), daughters Jodie (27) and Cordelia Gray (21) and son James Gray Junior (17) were appealing against sentences handed down to them in June last year for cruelty to more than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys in a case brought by the RSPCA. All sentences were upheld with James Gray receiving a 26 week prison sentence and a life ban from owning and keeping horses. The rest of the family have been banned from owning and keeping horses for 10 years.
Recorder of Aylesbury His Honour Christopher Tyrer described the case as ‘cruelty on a scale that beggars belief'.
It was a case that made national headlines. 31 horses, ponies and donkeys were found dead and over 100 were removed from Spindles Farm in Amersham in January 2008. Leading international horse charity World Horse Welfare took eleven horses from Spindles Farm into its care, all of which were suffering serious problems. They included Blakey, an emaciated and lice-ridden Thoroughbred and Polly, an aged bay mare with horrendously overgrown and cracked feet. Thankfully all the horses have now fully recovered.
World Horse Welfare Chief Executive Roly Owers comments:
"World Horse Welfare is very pleased that the Gray family have all had their convictions and sentences upheld. This was a simply horrific case, the worst in UK legal history, in which over thirty horses died. Thank heavens that after two long years, justice has been done and James Gray and his family have had their appeal quashed.
"Like all of the charities involved, the cost to care for the horses over the last two years has been enormous. We look forward to being able to find them loving new loan homes where they can look forward to a happy life far removed from the one they experienced in the hands of the Gray family."
World Horse Welfare Field Officer Nick White was one of the first at the scene back in January 2008. The memories from that day will remain with him forever.
"After seeing the conditions in the fields, it wasn't until I went into the yard that the enormity of it hit me," he says. "There were dead horses on the ground in front of me, and to the right. I looked across there was a dead horse in the stalls. It was like walking into another world.
"There were none of the normal noises I associate with a stable yard - horses moving about, eating, drinking, calling out to one another or the gentle noises that horses make when approached, expecting to be fed or cared for. They were totally silent. Even the horses that appeared in better bodily condition seemed to be depressed, almost as if they had lost their dignity."
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