50-year-old Northern Rivers woman Ms Leah Angela Braid had her severity appealdismissed and prison sentences upheld in Lismore District Court last Friday inrelation to multiple animal cruelty convictions for failing to provide food,shelter and veterinary treatment to severely emaciated horses under her care.

On 29 August 2017 at Casino Local Court, Ms Braid pleaded guilty to fouroffences of animal cruelty in relation to failing to provide proper andsufficient food and water, shelter and veterinary treatment to a horse in hercare. She received a sentence of cumulatively $6000 in fines (of which only$74 had been paid at the time of hearing) and a two-year good behaviour bondin relation to these matters.

Six months later, the RSPCA received another cruelty complaint in relation MsBraid’s Bottle Creek property, and upon attending inspectors found anemaciated mare and foal. On 29 August 2018 at Casino Local Court, the breachof the original good behaviour bond was called up, and Ms Braid wasresentenced to a three-month fixed term of imprisonment. That same day, shepleaded guilty to three additional offences of animal cruelty relating to anemaciated foal. For offences of failing to provide proper and sufficient foodto the foal, and failing to provide veterinary treatment, she received athree-month fixed term of imprisonment, partially concurrent with the firstfixed term. The total term of imprisonment was four months.

She then appealed against the severity of the sentence imposed to LismoreDistrict Court, where two other unrelated severity appeals were also heardtogether.

Judge Wells dismissed the appeal and confirmed orders of the Local Court,including orders for the payment of veterinary treatment costs of $5690.65 forthe first prosecution and $1922.00 for the second prosecution. The horses thesubject of these charges were ordered into RSPCA NSW custody, and Ms Braid wasprohibited from purchasing, acquiring, taking custody or possession of anyanimal for five years.

The first set of cruelty charges related to a severely emaciated horse betweenOctober and November 2016. After seven weeks in RSPCA care, the horse’s healthimproved markedly and it gained 119 kilograms.

The second set of cruelty charges related to a severely emaciated recumbentfoal with numerous untreated lacerations and injuries. Dehydrated and unableto stand, the foal was seized and transported to a veterinary clinic forimmediate treatment. In just eight days of RSPCA care, the foal’s weightincreased from 55.9 kilograms to 80.4 kilograms. The mare had been unable toproduce milk.

Judge Wells noted that Ms Braid had consistently failed to comply with ordersissued by RSPCA NSW for improvement in the conditions of her horses and hadthen continued refusing to comply with orders made by the Local Court.

She said, “Any person, particularly anyone with experience in horses, can tellthat the animals were in appalling condition. It’s remarkable the animalssurvived at all.”

RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector Scott Meyers said this was a complicated matter andthat he was pleased with the outcome.

“Horses are intelligent creatures who require a certain level of care andattention from responsible owners. The conditions these animals were found inwere inexcusable. The dramatic recoveries the horses made under RSPCA careindicate just how dire their situations were. These animals are fortunate tobe alive.”

“We hope this sends a message to the community that persistent neglect andcruelty to this extent can and will be treated as very serious mattersoccasioning imprisonment.”

Ms Braid’s appeals for unrelated police matters were also dismissed.

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