A sheriff has upheld the comhairle’s actions in protecting the welfare of a horse
which lived in its owner’s front room.
Stephanie Ann Noble had claimed the comhairle broke the law when it seized her horse
which was living in her front room.
She went to court to try and stop the council from selling the adult Connemara pony.
A council spokesperson welcomed the Sheriff David Sutherland’s judgement which “validates
the comhairle’s position and actions.”
“We will take time to consider the details of the judgement carefully and await passage
of the period for any appeal to be lodged.”
The local authority took away the animal called Grey Lady Too in February 2014, claiming
its living conditions for the previous two years in the front room of the ex-council
house at Broadbay View, Back, in Lewis, were too cramped and broke government guidelines.
Though Ms Noble is still the official owner, the local authority is forced to pay
thousands of pounds in looking after it.
The council is seeking legal ownership to dispose of the horse.
During the legal action the council was accused of acting as “judge, jury and executioner.”
Advocate Stewart Buchanan had told the court the council “had no powers under the
act to possess the horse. That was an unlawful act.”
Any risk of suffering was “remote” as Ms Noble protect doorways, windows, the floor
and electrical sockets while grazing was not an issue he contended.
Western Isles Council’s advocate, Mark Mohammed, had highlighted the case was not
about any “perceived strangeness” in Ms Noble’s lifestyle nor about the “appropriateness
or sensibility of living with a horse in her living room.”
He said it was “never in dispute the pony was suffering at the time” but centred
on the “likeliness of suffering” in the future.
There was no evidence provided to contradict the vet’s opinion stressed Mr Mohammed.
Inspector Kenny Macleod had a vet’s certificate over the risk to the horse and was
then “lawfully entitled to take possession.”
Waiting two years with the horse living in the house before any action does not invalidate
the council’s case, he added.
Kenny Macleod “indulged (Ms Noble) by giving her more time. He was more lenient with
her than he should have” - thus he was fair and unbiased “bending over backwards
to help her,” said the legal agent.
Court upholds council’s stance in horse-in-a-house controversy