Burnley pair convicted of animal cruelty claim they are terrified to leave their homes

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court
Share this article

Two women convicted of animal cruelty, which led to the death of a horse, say they are terrified to leave their homes unless they are in disguise.

Becky Louise Wilkin (41) and Jade English (29) claim they have been the targets of a hate campaign and can't attend appointments at the probation office because they don't feel safe on public transport, Burnley magistrates heard.

The court was earlier told how the horse, Domino, had been in such a bad state he had collapsed after escaping from his locked stable on a filthy allotment in the town and had to be put down by vets at the scene.

Wilkin and English were sentenced last month by the court. Wilkin, of Burnley Road, Crawshawbooth, Rossendale, who appeared under a different surname, received a 12-month community order, with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

English, then of Manchester Road, Burnley, was given a six-month community order with a curfew for eight weeks, between 9pm and 6am and a ten day rehabilitation activity requirement. Both were banned from keeping horses for four years and each was ordered to pay £1,200 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

Last week they had been due to ask the magistrates to amend their community orders because, they claimed, they were unable to comply because they fear going outdoors. They didn't turn up for the hearing.

Their solicitor John Rusius told the court: "There have been some difficulties in the community with people criticising the defendants and saying things like they should have gone to prison.

"It has made it very difficult to the extent they feel unsafe. If they go out to the shop, they have to wear a wig or a disguise. They do not feel safe going on public transport to the probation offices."

The duo were sentenced on January 17th after admitting five animal welfare offences relating to horses and a dog.

The RSPCA went to the allotment off Moseley Road on December 12th, 2017, after they received reports of the collapsed horse.

After the case, the charity's Inspector Lynsey Taylor said: "What we found when we got there was shocking.

"The collapsed horse we'd been called about, Domino, was laid at the entrance to the allotment, a few feet away from his stable, which had been bolted shut top and bottom, but Domino had kicked the lower stable door open in his distress.

"Very sadly, there was nothing vets could do for him but end his suffering and he was put to sleep at the scene.

"A second horse, a colt called Koda, was also down, but we managed to get him back on his feet and he was taken to HAPPA - the Horses and Ponies Protection Association - who had also had a call and arrived at the location when we did.

"There were a number of horses at the allotments living in awful conditions - they were underweight, had overgrown feet, lameness, lice and mites to different degrees.

"A dog, called Cyprus, who had recently had puppies, was also living in disgusting conditions and along with the horses, was taken into possession on veterinary advice. She was underweight and suffering from mastitis and diarrhoea."

Cyprus and a horse called Gypsy Boy were immediately signed over to the RSPCA, as was Koda, who was then signed over to HAPPA. He is still at their centre, where he continues his recovery.

The inspector added: "These animals were failed by these people and they suffered - and in Domino's case died - as a result."

In mitigation, the sentencing hearing had been told it was not deliberate cruelty. The defendants claimed the horses had been rescued from elsewhere and they didn't have the money to house and feed them properly.