Joy for Great Yarmouth landau driver as court overturns ban

A LANDAU driver on Great Yarmouth seafront has spoken of his joy after a court overturned a 10-year ban on keeping animals and he can return to work.

Darren Holmes, 37, of Croft Hill, Stokesby is angry he had been taken to court in the first place, charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a colt, found in a field off the Acle Straight malnourished and severely lame with a bad lesion on one of its hind legs.

His licence to operate as a landau driver in Yarmouth was suspended pending the result of the appeal which he lodged straight after his conviction.

The father-of-two was one of three men given bans by Yarmouth magistrates in March – the other two being the horse’s owner Kenneth Shaw, of Essex, and Ian Robson, 64, of Chestnut Road, Pulham St Mary.

The decision meant Mr Holmes, who was also fined �150, had to give up his livelihood and his wife Dawn, 51, had to look after his five horses, but last week he successfully appealed to Norwich Crown Court for the ban to be overturned.

The RSPCA did not offer any evidence against his appeal.

After the appeal victory, Mr Holmes said he did not know the horse’s owner and only became embroiled in the case when he noticed the RSPCA looking at the animal in the field in April last year and went to help, thinking wrongly the colt was owned by someone he knew.

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“This case has taken my life away from me. My horses are my life and my living and the RSPCA were willing to take my life away from me. and when the truth came out they were not even prepared to challenge it,” Mr Holmes said.

He said he had lovingly reared the family’s five horses, including 18-month-old colt Bingo which he bought in a poor condition from a travellers’ site in Essex, but has since returned to full health.

Two of the horses belong to his disabled daughter Ellie, 16 and he also has a son Daniel, 26.

Mr Holmes added: “I am overjoyed at the decision. My horses are my life and I would never ever treat an animal like that.”

In March, Yarmouth magistrates heard the horse was seized by police and handed over to the Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Vets estimated the animal had been in considerable pain for up to two weeks and it was also infested with lice and worms. The colt seemed wary of humans and stood in a protective stance, the court heard.

The horse had been in the field for six days after it was bought by Shaw, who hoped the animal would fatten up by eating grass.