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Horse trader absconds from animal cruelty case

A horse trader convicted of the worst case of animal cruelty ever seen by the RSPCA absconded from court as he awaited sentence.

James Gray, 46, neglected more than 100 animals on his farm. In total, 114 horses were removed from the site, many in a state of starvation, three of which had to be put down. Thirty-two dead horses were also found.

Gray attended Aylesbury Crown Court in Buckinghamshire to appeal against his 24-week prison sentence, having lost an appeal against his conviction last week. But when the court resumed after adjourning for the judge to deliberate, Gray had disappeared. It is thought he walked past security guards despite being told by Judge Christopher Tyrer not to leave the court building. A warrant for his arrest was issued.

Gray, who was convicted along with his wife and three of his children following the neglect at Spindle Farm in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, was sentenced in his absence to 26 weeks in prison – the maximum possible.

Judge Tyrer said: "What the court has been listening to is an horrendous case of animal cruelty. It is the worst case ever experienced by the RSPCA. In our judgment, this was animal cruelty on a scale that beggars belief."