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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 17:58 GMT
Animal carer cleared of cruelty
A woman who looks after injured animals has been cleared of 15 cruelty charges on appeal on Thursday.

But Roberta Mitchell, from Bettisfield, did not contest her conviction on two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to horses on Thursday.

She was given a 12-month conditional discharge at Mold Crown Court.

The RSPCA says it has spent more than 60,000 on kennelling costs and prosecuting Mrs Mitchell, 58, since her home was raided two years ago.

Ban lifted

The charges were either dropped for lack of scientific evidence or by agreement. A ban on her keeping animals was lifted.

The case centred on two ponies, which were put down by the RSPCA, and a number of dogs found both inside her house and in outside pens.

The court heard that when investigators entered the house they were overwhelmed by the smell of urine and animal faeces.

Ammonia levels were so high they had to surface for fresh air every five minutes.

Legal breakthrough

Vet David Martin, for the RSPCA, told the court that the ponies were emaciated and one had liver disease. He also alleged that they had overgrown feet.

Jonathon Rich, defending Mrs Mitchell, said both horses were old and ill and had come to the end of their lives and were due to be put down.

At the time of her conviction in 2003 the RSPCA had hailed it as a legal breakthrough, in that the alleged suffering resulted from how the animals were kept rather than their actual condition.

Return animals

But the charity was told it must now return seven dogs to Mrs Mitchell.

"This is a vindication for me and my decision to appeal," she said after the four-day hearing against her original conviction by magistrates.

"My feelings towards them (the RSPCA) are unprintable.

"They harass people and kick them when they are down."

District Judge Brigid Knight said that she did not think Ms Mitchell intended to cause unnecessary suffering, but she had taken on more than she could cope with,.

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