A horse trader has been jailed for eight months in a “shocking and horrendous” case of widespread animal cruelty.
Thomas Tony Price, 49, from Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan, was sentenced to a total of eight months in prison and ordered to pay £44,484 in costs for 57 animal welfare offences and seven breaches of an antisocial behviour order.
He was also banned from owning horses for a total of five years, suspended for six months to allow Price to sell or dispose of his stock.
The RSPCA believes Price, the director of lucrative horse trading business Glamorgan Horse Traders, owns around 2,500 horses around the country.
The court heard how the cob ponies were removed from five different locations across the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend, where they were found emaciated and poorly kept. While some were re-homed, the RSPCA was forced to euthanise others.
Sentencing, District Judge Bodfan Jenkins told the court he had “no other option” than to impose the maximum penalty.
He said: “The state of the environment in which you kept these animals almost beggars belief.
“These horses suffered enormously – some to the point of death.
“[This was] a situation that was both shocking and horrendous.”
Sentenced separately by District Judge John Charles for breaching an antisocial behaviour order by allowing horses to run amok on roads and land owned by others, Price faced heavy criticism for the suffering he unleashed on animals and other people.
Mr Charles said: “You’ve not shown a shred of respect for anybody and not shown any remorse.
“Landowners were powerless to deal with your fly-grazing activities and they were virtually intimidated by you.”
Also sentenced was Price’s eldest son, Thomas Hope Price, 26, of Rover Way in Cardiff, who was sent to jail for 23 weeks and banned from owning horses for five years after admitting to 42 charges. These included causing unnecessary suffering to 18 horses, which the court heard were “left to die” on land in Bridgend surrounded by rusting diggers, derelict barns and a stagnant pool of water,
And Price Senior’s younger son Tony John Price, 19, also of Rover Way, was given a 12-month community order and told to undertake 135 hours of unpaid work after admitting failing to meet the welfare needs of two ponies. He was also banned from keeping horses for a year.
While an application for a lifelong ban was made by prosecutors, Mr Jenkins decided on a shorter ban as all three men were said to have no other skills and no other livelihood.
He said: “It seems to me a life ban would not be appropriate in this case. A life ban would effectively mean that you could never work again – that is beyond reasonable, in my view.”
Following the sentencing, representatives from the RSPCA said they were satisfied with the judge’s comments.
RSPCA’s national director for Wales Steve Carter said: “We more or less got the result we wanted. The important thing for us is that Mr Price has been punished but he’s also been given an opportunity to sort out his stock.
“The huge amount of horses he owns is just too much for the RSPCA to take on alone.
“It’s been a long time getting here and it’s a particularly complex case, which we’ve worked on with both the police and the local authorities.”