|CONGRATULATIONS MR O'NEILL WE HOPE YOU TAKE ACTION AGAINST THE RSPCA FOR DAMAGES|
When the trial finally concluded, the magistrates acquitted Mr O’Neill of all charges, saying he could leave the court with “an untarnished reputation”. Such stories should be brought to the attention of all those generous folk who still provide the RSPCA with an income of £115 million a year in donations, without realising what a change has come over that once admirable organisation – and how much of its activity, according to critics, is now devoted to prosecuting innocent animal owners in order to generate the publicity that keeps those donations rolling in.
Michael O’Neill, of Rainbow Farm, Pentraeth, saw trained harness racing horse Mickey-Bob, and Barney taken by officers from the animal charity in 2007 after being found in a poorly condition.
This started years of hell for the respected breeder as he was dragged through the courts, with proceedings delayed further after he had a stroke in Holyhead Magistrates Court in 2009.
In July this year he was finally cleared of all neglect charges and the RSPCA were told to promptly return his horses.
It has taken nearly three months to comply with the order but yesterday the horses arrived back on Anglesey.
Mr O’Neill, in his 50s, said the three year fight has cost him thousands of pounds and lost the potential of racing Mickey-Bob, who was bred from a top class racing father.
He said: “All that potential has now been lost and I feel very bitter and disappointed. If the horses had been returned promptly I could have covered a couple of my own mares with Mickey-Bob but it is too late in the year now.”
Mr O’Neill won the case at Caernarfon Magistrates Court after the court accepted that abscesses on their throats were caused by a bacterial infection called strangles, and not neglect.
They had been bought in August 2007 for around £10,000.
Zoe McKenna, of Rhoscefnhir, who was accused alongside him, also had charges against her dropped at an earlier date.
He said: “For three years my life has been on hold, no one wanted to know me and my business as a horse dealer came to a halt.
“Mickey-Bob was over the worst of the strangles when he was seized and the recovery is quite rapid, he would have been race fit for the 2008 season but now we will never know. I feel cheated and that Mickey-Bob has been robbed of a career that he was bred and trained for.”
Mr O’Neill, who is originally from Ireland, is the fifth generation of horse breeder in his family.