A 78-YEAR-OLD north Pembrokeshire man has been handed a six-month suspended jail sentence for the mistreatment of dozens of horses and ponies at Cardigan.

Alun Lloyd of Sunny Hill, Llanfyrnach, was found guilty of nine Animal Welfare Act offences split over two separate cases. He was sentenced on Tuesday (December 22) at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court, having previously failed to attend court.

A warrant had been issued for Lloyd’s arrest by magistrates at Aberystwyth Justice Centre when he failed to appear last week for sentencing having also failed to attend earlier hearings.

In addition to a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, Lloyd was disqualified from the keeping and owning of horses for 10 years, and given £1,500 in fines and costs. He cannot appeal the decade-long ban for five years.

Some 31 horses in the care of Lloyd were being kept in an unsuitable environment, based in fields at Esgyr Fawr in Cippyn, Cardigan, where ragwort was prevalent.

Further offences specifically related to seven of the horses owned by Lloyd - six of whom his failure to act caused suffering unnecessarily. One was suffering due to poor condition, while a further five had poor body condition and weight loss.

One of the horses was also suffering with an ulcerated sarcoid, while another also had serious dental issues.

Lloyd also failed to meet the needs of three horses needing effective lice control, two requiring treatment for rain scald, while one was also not given necessary veterinary care and attention for respiratory distress.

Sadly, four horses had to be put to sleep due to the extent of their condition and not responding to intensive treatment.

He now has 28 days to make arrangements for horses still in his care - after being told by the court that he may not keep or own the animals for the next decade.

The RSPCA was contacted by Dyfed Powys Police about the state of horses at Esgyr Fawr - and launched an investigation.

Officers from the animal welfare charity say conditions had not improved despite offering advice on previous occasions and that court proceedings followed "bad husbandry" and a failure to respect the basic needs of 31 horses.

RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: "Sadly, this case saw multiple horses cared for completely inappropriately - with some 31 not having their needs met, with repeated bad husbandry and several fields full of ragwort causing serious problems.

"Seven horses in particular caused us serious concern - with a combination of poor bodily condition, weight loss, dental problems and an ulcerated sarcoid causing suffering among this neglected group.

"Owning horses is a privilege - and unfortunately, despite repeated warnings, the standards of care have fallen well short of legal requirements here - and sadly these animals have paid the price. Fortunately, the RSPCA was able to intervene and the majority of these horses will have another chance of happiness."