A thief who beat his young pony with a stick to make it drag a stolen flower stall six miles has been banned from keeping equine for a year. George Smith, 36, of Croydon, south London was ordered to pay £85 in costs and do 150 hours of unpaid work on after pleading guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal at Croydon Magistrates Court.
In June last year, Smith was caught on CCTV attaching an unmanned flower stall to his chestnut mare in Rosehill, Sutton, before cracking the one-year-old pony's hide repeatedly after the stolen haul got stuck on a speed bump. Vet Robin Stevens told magistrates: "The pony's legs were bucking, it physically couldn't carry it over the bump, hitting it with a stick was not making any difference, she couldn't do it."
Police caught Smith as he began his six mile journey from Rosehill to Croydon. Smith confessed to police he had had his eye on the stall, belonging to flower seller Chris Tucker, for some time. The father-of-one had initially denied animal cruelty and told police he had been feeding the pony daily, although vet Miss Stevens told magistrates at the trial, the pony was in "quite poor condition" and "had not been looked after".
After pleading guilty to theft by finding in August, Smith changed his plea on the animal cruelty charges to guilty on the morning of the trial. In sentencing Smith, Judge S Fudge, told him the pony was defenceless and completely dependant on him. She said: "You used a stick to beat it with when it clearly couldn't cope with the weight of the cart. You were wrong to use the pony to help you commit an offence, it deserved better from you." Kate Fletcher from the RSPCA said the sentence was disappointing because it was so lenient."