Horsebox ‘hot as oven’, witnesses tell riding event dog death trial

Endurance racing at Euston Park (stock image). Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Endurance racing at Euston Park (stock image). Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Witnesses have described the ‘oven-like’ heat of a horsebox, where a dog was allegedly caused suffering that led to its death, at a Suffolk endurance racing event.

A two-day trial opened with evidence from a security guard, stable manager and organiser of the Euston Park Endurance event, near Thetford, where Ian Cockley-Adams is accused of confining the dog to a detrimental environment.

Cockley-Adams, 57, of Sevenhampton, near Cheltenham, denies causing unnecessary suffering to the dog, Wade, and not taking steps to ensure the needs of the animal and a second border collie, Dec, were met on June 18.

Ipswich magistrates heard that temperatures hit 29C at the event – entered by Cockley-Adams’ wife.

Prosecutor Hazel Stevens said he left the dogs with a water bowl in a horsebox, following morning exercise, between 7am and 7.20pm – returning to check on them at 9.30am and 1.40pm.

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Between 3pm and 4pm, stable guard Glyn Thompson said he heard the sound of dogs fighting, followed by silence and a ‘thud’, and alerted stable manager Brian Elliott, who joined him in opening the vehicle’s rear tailgate.

“It was like opening an oven door,” he added.

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Inside, he said they found a dog panting, with lacerations to its face, but in much better condition than Wade – collapsed and struggling to breathe, beyond an interior partition.

He said the owner arrived 15-20 minutes later in a state of shock.

Mr Elliott described the heat of the horsebox as “like a sauna, or an oven after cooking chicken”.

The pair were joined by event organiser Viv Orchard-Bloor, an equine vet and a small animal vet, who drove Wade to a Wymondham practice and later took instructions to put the dog down.

The prosecution argued Cockley-Adams failed to check often enough to ensure the dog’s welfare and failed to take steps to ensure the dogs’ needs were met.

Questioned by defence solicitor Conrad Gadd, Mr Thompson and Mr Elliott said the dividing doors appeared “scratched and chewed”, consistent with damage by dogs.

Both said they could not judge the exact temperature inside.

Mr Elliott said he saw an overturned water bowl, but could not be sure if any other sources of food or water were in the vehicle.

He said he removed shards of wood from Wade’s mouth before applying water and ice to its coat.

The trial is expected to conclude on Wednesday.

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