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Gucci mistress banned for cruelty to horses

The mistress of the late Paolo Gucci, grandson of the founder of the fashion empire, was banned yesterday from keeping horses for five years after admitting 11 charges of causing unnecessary suffering.

Penny Armstrong, 28, the mother of two of Mr Gucci's children, was ordered to pay costs of pounds 5,640 and compensation totalling pounds 15,570 to the RSPCA.

David Buck, for the prosecution, said the horses were emaciated, suffering from diarrhoea and listlessness. One had sores and two had to be carried to a transporter. Another filly had to be put down on the spot after she had collapsed. A vet estimated she had probably not eaten for two weeks.

The horses were part of a group of 100 kept at the stud farm in Rusper, West Sussex, formerly owned by Mr Gucci who died in 1995. Armstrong had been had been living in a house associated with the stud, which was now owned by a foreign company. Mr Gucci was made bankrupt before he died and his affairs had been complicated since his former wife, Jenny, also held claims to the estate. It was agreed that Armstrong, a former stud groom, would continue to run the stud subject to the supervision of receivers.

Armstrong admitted during a police interview after the horses were removed on 2 January that the animals were in a bad way, but blamed a lack of money. She also admitted there had been a previous offer of help from the RSPCA and that the receivers had made money available for feed. The court was told that the horses at the stud had now been sold, the proceeds going to the estate.

- Jojo Moyes