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Three jailed for selling drugged horses to hide health and behavioural problems


Three people have been jailed for their roles in selling horses with physical ailments or behavioural issues to unsuspecting members of the public.

Aniela Jurecka and Charlotte Johnson were buying and selling horses through their business SE Horses, with premises in Marden and Staplehurst, while David Smith was a vet acting in collusion with the sellers and was based at a veterinary centre in Deal. They were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud, following a trial at Maidstone Crown Court. Today (Monday 11 July), they were each jailed for two and a half years.

CPS South East Chief Crown Prosecutor, Jaswant Narwal, said: "This was a complex investigation involving a large number of purchasers and a considerable amount of evidence. The CPS worked closely with the police to bring these fraudsters to justice.

"This was a fraud where the defendants bought animals with physical ailments or behavioural issues that were then masked by the use of sedatives. The defendants specifically targeted novice riders and in some cases knew the victims were buying horses for their children.

"As a result of the drugs, the horses appeared to be docile and placid, but once the effects of the sedatives had worn off, their true nature and temperament was revealed with some dangerous consequences.

"In one case, a woman had bought a pony for her 10 year old daughter, which then bucked and attempted to throw her off, while another horse, described as an "unexploded bomb", threw his rider off, leaving him with broken ribs. Other horses tried to stamp on their owners, chased them, reared up or were too dangerous to be ridden.

"In some instances, the problems were physical, with buyers discovering horses were lame or had conditions that would need life-long correction. These were clearly animals that were not suitable for sale and the buyers had been lied to and duped into purchasing them."

Additional information

The horses were advertised in various publications and on the internet between 2008 and 2012, with novice riders targeted.

Some adverts described the horses as calm and placid, but they had significant behavioural issues that made them entirely unsuitable for novice riders. This led to falls and injuries. In other cases, horses that were lame were sold, having been given drugs to enable them to walk and be ridden without limping. False histories of the horses were also provided to prospective purchasers.

Purchasers were then persuaded into using David Smith under the misapprehension that he was acting for them, when he was in fact working on behalf of the sellers. In such cases, guidance from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons makes it clear the purchaser should be aware that the seller is also a client of the vet.


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