Sunderland boxer Glenn Foot has been convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal after a horse he owned was found with a maggot-infested injury.
Foot, 31, of Marley Crescent, Sunderland, could face a prison sentence after his horse, Raspy, suffered a severe head-collar injury.
Police and RSPCA officers were alerted to the animal’s condition in August last year after a member of the public saw it tethered in a field in Witherwack in the city.
An investigation was subsequently launched and Foot was convicted of three offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in his absence.
He re-appeared before magistrates in South Tyneside convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, failing to meet the horse’s needs and obstructing an officer.
Foot is due to be sentenced next month.
Pc Peter Baker, of Northumbria Police, said: “We are a nation of animal lovers so it is never nice to deal with cases like this that involves unnecessary suffering and pain.
“The horse suffered a deep cut from his head collar, but when confronted by police and the RSPCA, the owner refused to cooperate and would not disclose the location of the injured animal.
“I am pleased that Glenn Foot has had his day in court, and I hope this prosecution sends a message to owners that they are responsible for looking after their animals and ensuring they are protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
“Anybody who fails to ensure an animal’s welfare needs are adequately met could face criminal action.
"We would always ask anybody who witnesses cruelty or an animal in distress to contact the RSPCA direct or call 101.”
Officers and the RSPCA attended a grassy area off Wembley Road, Sunderland, on August 29 last year after concerns were raised for a horse, which was described by the caller to have a “tar-like substance” on his head.
Attempts were made to seize the injured horse, which was surrounded by flies, but its owner Foot refused to let officers take the animal and made off.
Subsequent efforts to find the horse proved unsuccessful.
RSPCA Inspector Rowena Proctor was among those who witnessed the severity of the horse’s condition.
She said: “When I approached Raspy, I could see hundreds of flies surrounding him and was very concerned.
“There was a horrendous smell of infection.
"I could see the tar-like substance that had been mentioned and it appeared to be dried blood.
"I thought immediately that the horse may have an embedded head collar.”
RSPCA Inspector Proctor called a vet who discovered Raspy was wearing not one but two head-collars which were embedded into his skin.
She continued: “The wound appeared a couple of inches deep, it looked like the horse had been sliced.
"It was absolutely shocking.
“The smell coming from the collars was horrendous and I quickly noticed hundreds of fly eggs, alongside live maggots, crawling around inside them.”
An application to have the case reopened yesterday was rejected by magistrates in South Tyneside.
Foot is due to be sentenced on February 27.