The court order for the return of the 29 donkeys and
ponies, along with the sale at auction of 82 other horses, was made by
Deputy District Judge Kainth following an application by the Gray family
for their return, under Section 20 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The RSPCA contested this application, and had argued that they should be allowed instead to oversee the rehoming of the animals in order to safeguard their future welfare.Today the judge ordered a "stay" meaning the animals will remain in the care of the RSPCA pending a high court appeal against Judge Kainth's original decision.
The animals will remain where they are until the outcome of the judicial review is decided.
The pre-trial review for the RSPCA’s criminal case against James John Gray, Julie Gray, Cordelia Gray and Jodie Gray * along with a 15 year old male * will be heard on 28 April 2008 at Oxford Magistrates Court.
They face 12 charges related to section 4 and section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and cover causing unnecessary suffering to and failing to meet the welfare needs of a total of 125 horses, ponies and donkeys, removed from Spindle Farm between 4 and 12 January 2008.
Today the judge ordered a "stay" meaning the animals will remain in the care of the RSPCA pending a high court appeal against Judge Kainth's original decision.
As the judgement was made a packed public gallery stood up to applaud Judge Kainth's decision.
Phillip Williams, representing Mr Gray, described today's application for a stay as " frivolous", adding : "The animals must be returned forthwith."
Philip Havers QC representing the RSPCA said: "If you were to enforce the order and refuse the application you would effectively pre-empt the outcome of the appeal." He added: " If the animals are returned to Mr Gray in the meantime their welfare would be in jeopardy."
He also said that there would be a risk of suffering to the donkeys and ponies if they were returned as donkeys were among the dead animals removed in January.
Also, prosecution vet Robert Baskerville found that one of the donkeys was “considered to be at risk of death within hours or days unless it received urgent specialist treatment.”
“We are, of course, delighted that the animals will remain in the care of the animal welfare charities for the immediate future and hope we will be able to secure their long-term well-being,” said the RSPCA’s Chief Officer Tim Wass.
Judge Kainth said: " My original ruling on the 4th April is to be, with immediate effect, suspended. It is for the High Court to determine how best to proceed."
Mr Gray, who did not appear in court today, he was ordered to pay £3,000 prosecution costs although his solicitor indicated he planned to appeal that decision