Prize-winning Shetland ponies Earlswood Ellen and Ugieband Marina and
the Irish Thoroughbred/ Connemara horse Brother Benedict died in the blazing stables
last year, devastating Cheshire-based owners Elizabeth and David Gray.
Ashley Pollitt, 16, of Elton, Cheshire, was sentenced on 1 June at Chester Crown Court after he admitted accidentally setting a hay bale alight while playing
with matches in the stable to impress his friends last November. He will spend one year in custody for the offence.
The court heard how Pollitt thought he had extinguished the fire but as
he and three others walked away, they realised the stable was alight. They fled
and within hours Pollitt had also burgled a house in Helsby, Cheshire, taking keys for a Vauxhall Corsa, which he crashed, the court was told.
seeing photographs of the fire's
aftermath, Judge Elgan Edwards described Pollitt's behaviour as "disgraceful". He
added: "You had seen at least one horse in that stable which was ablaze, but you did nothing to try to remedy your actions. Quite the contrary - you proceeded to commit other offences of burglary and the aggravated
taking of a car." Mrs Gray said that she would never forgive Pollitt and the
other three youths for "the fright and terror" that the horses experienced.
The Grays have moved to a new stable and taken on fire victim Ellen's
niece and daughter, Esta and Ella. They also have a new horse called Rosie.
The couple is encouraging stable owners to take precautions through Cheshire
Fire Service and the British Horse Society's Stable Safe scheme. Under the scheme, owners give details of the stable layout, draw a plan of the area and state where horses can be released in the event of the fire. This gives
emergency services vital information.
Horse owner and Cheshire fireman Paul Morris is one of only a few
UK fire-fighters to run the scheme.
He said: "We file [the information]
and give them a copy to display in the stable. It gives us details that make our job a lot easier, such as the location of
the nearest fire hydrant and where the horses' headcollars are kept." Mr Morris
also advises owners to fit remote smoke alarms that detect fire without frightening horses.
Mrs Gray added: "The more people who are made aware of [the scheme] the
better. If it can just save one horse's life, it's worth doing."
For more information on Stable Safe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Horse & Hound 9 June 2005
See also Riding Safely News November & December
2004, January & February
2005 and March & April 2005 for previous details.
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