A woman from Welcombe who was found to be operating a riding establish without a licence has appeared in court.

A woman from Welcombe who was found to be operating a riding establish without a licence has appeared in court.

Jane Hunt was found guilty at North Devon Magistrates’ Court on Monday, January 18, for operating a riding establishment without holding a licence.

She was disqualified from holding a licence for two years, fined £500 with £50 victim surcharge and £1,388 in costs – bringing the total to almost £2,000.

Hunt already has a previous conviction initiated by the RSPCA with support from Torridge officers and which resulted in the removal of a thoroughbred horse.

In 2017 Torridge District Council (TDC) learnt that Jane Hunt, the owner of Welcombe Equine, was operating her horse riding business without a licence.

The issue was raised by concerned residents and also the British Horse Society.

Following an investigation, Hunt was informed of her legal obligations in needing to apply for a Riding Establishment Licence and that until the licence was granted the business should not be operated.

Although an application for a licence was made shortly afterwards the vets inspection under the licencing regime found that:’the establishment fell seriously short of an acceptable standard on many points’.

Hunt was advised that she shouldn’t operate the business until it was compliant and a fresh licence application had been granted.

She continued to advertise her business, prompting Torridge District Council officers to pursue their case against her illegal activities.

Following further exchanges of correspondence and attempts to interview Hunt under caution, which Hunt failed to attend, the case came to court on Monday (January 14).

North Devon Magistrates’ Court heard Torridge officers had made a booking at Hunt’s establishment and had been contacted by further members of the public concerned that no licence could be found for the establishment.

The 52-year-old had tried to claim that she didn’t require a licence as any riding instruction was only provided to friends and family and any money paid was simply a contribution towards expenses such as fuel.

Further witness statements proved that this was not the case and that Hunt had no licence to operate, which would probably have invalidated any insurance she claimed to have as well.

She was found guilty of two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to Polly, a thoroughbred mare.

She was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £835 in costs and surcharges at a hearing at North Devon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, August 3.

Councillor Ken James, TDC lead member for the environment, said: “The animal licensing regime exists to ensure the welfare of animals as well as the health and safety of customers using facilities.

“Through her actions Mrs Hunt has shown a blatant disregard for her responsibilities under the law, which has been confirmed in court.

“To their credit the public also raised concerns about the way this business was being operated.

“It is good advice for people to check on our council website to see if an establishment holds a valid and current licence so that the welfare and safety of the animals and the public are not being compromised.”