Cruel pictures are presented to the court: emaciated horses, the vertebrae are visible, the hoof bones too. The officers shake their heads in shock. "Let's turn the pictures around, you can't look at that", says one. The eyes keep wandering from the photos to the woman who is responsible for them.
The 37-year-old accused also looks at the photos. But she doesn't pull a face – and the stakes are high for her. This process can be the end for your dream. She loves to work with horses. She likes animals so much that she set up a sanctuary for old horses. There horses, whose owners no longer have time for them, should get the care and attention that would otherwise have been denied to them.
Horses must starve
Such were the intentions and premeditations of the defendants – the plan ended in disaster. In the beginning, the defendant spared no expense or effort to offer the best to the animals. There were new shoes and only the best feed. Not surprisingly, the horse owner soon found herself in a financial bind. A bottleneck from which especially the horses suffered.
Now and then there was nothing to eat – so the food rations were shortened. In the end, however, these cuts took on such dimensions that the horses went hungry. They decreased, all fat reserves were used up. The sad climax of the shattered dream was the death of the mare lacey, who collapsed during transport and eventually had to be put to sleep.
Now the 37-year-old is on trial for animal cruelty, and it doesn't look good for her. On the first day of the trial a week ago, it was no different. The veterinarian who had to relieve lacey of her suffering was still shocked by the sight he saw. "The horse was a skeleton with only skin on top." The other horse that was transported with lacey did not look any better either. "The only difference was that the horse was still standing."
The owner of another horse was also completely shocked by the condition of her cora. Cora was also only skin and bones and had to be fed fluently for a long time. To lose weight like that, the horses must have starved for at least eight weeks, the veterinarian and the official veterinarian agree.
The trial had to be continued because a witness had not appeared a week ago. A witness in whom the defendant had placed her last hopes. They were allowed to burst at the latest, when the prosecutor dissects the testimony of the witness.
An unbelievable witness
She owned the riding interest in lacey, cared for her and also rode the mare. Although all the horses at the sanctuary were sick, they were still fit for their age, she said. Even then, the public prosecutor addresses the witness about the contradictions, but she sticks to her version, even after the public prosecutor has reminded her several times of her duty to tell the truth. There is no end to the inconsistencies. The witness can't quite remember when she started worrying about lacey. "Spring or winter 2011?", she dug. The prosecutor is not satisfied with that. Her patience and tolerance for the witness's evasive answers have long since run out. She wants to know the exact time. "I won't let them go before they've at least made an effort to remember."
The witness is at a loss. Her head turns red. She lapses into a brief silence before finally replying. The contradictions nevertheless do not take an end. The prosecutor speaks to the witness about it, the witness is speechless. "That's what happens when you say things that aren't true.", says the representative of the prosecutor's office.
The hoped-for salvation of the defendants has thus fizzled out. The emails that the 37-year-old wrote to a food supplier do the rest. There the accused herself describes the catastrophic conditions at the sanctuary. "I don't know what to offer the horses", it says in one of the news. "The small change lack of money to buy feed.
At some point, even the remaining feed stock was used up, and the horses had at best only straw to eat. But it was not only the food situation that was miserable. The horse cora got a colic. The animals stood wet in their stalls. In addition, the owner no longer knew what to do with the filth caused by the animals. The dumpster was full and again there was no money to empty it.
It is not surprising that the prosecutor demands a ban on the defendant working with animals any longer. In addition, it demands a prison sentence of one year and four months. With their earlier sentences, a total prison term of two years should be made out of this.
Which also brings the court to the horse owner's criminal history: she has already had to serve several prison sentences for fraud. It has not passed any of its tests. "The defendant is a failure of preservation and nothing else speaks positively for her", the prosecutor brings it to the point.
But there are enough minus points for the horse owner: she shows neither insight nor remorse. The defendant also lacked compassion for the horses that were suffering, as well as a confession. "She was blind to the suffering of the horses."
The defender has nothing to counter this. He nevertheless demands a lighter punishment. Both he and the prosecutor agree that there is no longer any question of preservation.
And indeed: the 37-year-old is sentenced for animal torture in three cases with her previous convictions to a total sentence of one year and ten months. For five years she is not allowed to keep animals, neither in private nor for work.