A senior has been banned from keeping animals for five years and handed a suspended sentence after admitting a catalogue of cruelty against six horses and a rabbit.

The animals were found at Calix Darrell’s stables with filthy bedding, and no food or water. One of the horses was so sick that it later had to be destroyed by a vet.

Darrell, a 68-year-old truck driver from Fairvale Lane, Warwick, pleaded guilty to eight cruelty charges when he appeared at Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The case was later described by the Police and SPCA as the largest-scale finding of horse neglect seen in Bermuda.

“We tried to help him and he had so many opportunities. We wanted to work with him but he was not even trying to be compliant,” said SPCA Inspector Beaman Smith who saw at first hand the terrible conditions the animals endured at Darrell’s hands.

Outlining the case, Crown Counsel Shakira Dill said the SPCA Inspector, together with an animal warden and Government and private vets attended the stable on the Railway Trail near Five Star Island, Southampton, on March 4 2005.

Acting on information received, they were met by Darrell, who opened the stable which he usually kept locked to keep people out. In the first stable, they found a black stallion that was underweight, showed signs of diarrhoea, with bedding which was wet and made up mostly of faeces, said Ms Dill. In a second stable, a stallion pony was found with unkempt feet and no bucket or water. A mare and her foal in a third stable were standing in wet, dirty bedding with no water available. The stall was too small for them, and both had unkempt hooves.

In a fourth stable, a bay mare was found with signs of lameness, also with long feet, with no water and wet, filthy bedding.

The fifth stable contained a black stallion with uncared-for feet and no bedding or water.

“The horses were exposed to only limited light and the premises contained much debris in the form of trash throughout. Outside the stable were two rabbits housed in a cage without water and food and no hut to go into,” said the prosecutor.

Darrell was instructed to seek medical attention for Shaka, a black stallion, and advised to keep water in the stables at all times.

He also agreed that the SPCA should assist him by taking the mare and foal away for a month to help the foal grow better and signed a list of eight recommendations.

However, said Ms Dill, a series of further spot-checks at the stables showed that no improvements had been made.

The defendant failed to call the SPCA Inspector and Government vet when they left cards and on a visit on April 15 2005,

Shaka was found to have deteriorated, with swelling visible on his face. All the horses drank excessively when given water.

Although the mare and foal were returned to Darrell in a better condition after SPCA care, they worsened again after being handed back.

In June 2005, the horses and rabbit were seized during the execution of two warrants and according to Ms Dill, Darrell asked the officials: “Why are my horses being taken? I am a black man, why are you troubling your own kind?”

On July 8, Shaka was humanely destroyed after a vet decided it would be cruel to keep the horse alive to endure further suffering.

According to Ms Dill, the cost of housing the horses since they were seized from Darrell is around $56,000 and she asked for him to be made to pay a contribution toward this.

She said that the defendant ? who has no previous convictions ? could be fined $1,000, jailed for 12 months, or both, under the Care and Protection of Animals Act.

Ed King, for the defence, said his client was a man of limited financial resources and ekes out a living by driving a truck for White and Sons.

Asking Magistrate Tyrone Chin to be lenient, he said Darrell had owned horses all his life and it had broken his heart to lose his animals.

Besides the five year ban, Mr. Chin fined Darrell a total of $4,800 and handed him a three month jail sentence suspended for one year saying: “He had an opportunity to right his wrongs.”

Speaking after the case, Inspector Smith said: “This is the biggest case I have ever dealt with, with so many animals involved.

“I’m pleased with the ban and suspended sentence although as far as the SPCA receiving the monies that it spent in this case I’m a little bit upset about that. The animals got the better deal, but we are there for the animals. We speak for them and we will continue to do so.”

Government Veterinary Officer Dr. Jonathan Nisbett said he was also happy with the outcome, adding: “Let this case be a message to all of those who want to ignore opportunities to improve care for their animals.”

Police Animal Protection Officer P.c. Yvonne Ricca confirmed that this was the largest case involving neglect of horses that the Police had ever handled.

SPCA Shelter chairman Andrew Madeiros thanked all of those involved for their work. The horses are now being cared for at a private stables and will eventually be put up for adoption.

By Elizabeth Roberts The Royal Gazette