A Bega Valley woman has been sentenced and hit with fines amounting to more than $321,000 on charges of neglecting horses in her care.
Janice Louise Denny, 59, was found guilty and sentenced in Bega Local Court on Tuesday, November 23, on six charges relating to the failure to provide adequate food, water, and veterinary care for horses in her care.
Magistrate Doug Dick imposed a 15-month Intensive Corrections Order (ICO) to be served in the community under strict supervision.
Conditions for the ICO include being on good behaviour, accepting guidance from Community Corrections and attending any mental health treatments prescribed.
Ms Denny was also disqualified from possessing any horses for 10 years and ordered that any horses in her care must be disposed of within 28 days.
The vet treatment and care for the horses previously seized by the RSPCA also carried a heavy fee.
Ms Denny was ordered to pay back $321,757 for these costs, and an additional $13,750 in legal fees for the prosecution team working on behalf of the RSPCA.
Before the case was heard in court on Tuesday, Magistrate Dick ordered a sentencing assessment report involving an interview with a community corrections officer.
Prior to sentencing, RSPCA prosecutor Mark Higgins raised concerns about some details of the report.
Although the report indicated Ms Denny was at low risk of reoffending, Mr Higgins said the prosecution had to disagree with this finding.
He told the court this was the "fourth set of offences under the Animal Cruelty Act" and that Ms Denny's behaviour had not changed since 2013.
The other issue Mr Higgins raised was in relation to Ms Denny's mental health.
"While the subject might lead one to think there is a mental health condition, there is no evidence for this other than what she says.
"There is no nexus between any mental health condition and the effective behaviour of Ms Denny," he said.
Magistrate Dick said while Ms Denny had attempted to tender evidence of a mental health condition during a previous matter, she had not presented anything to the court of this nature in the course of the current proceedings.
Mr Higgins also said in his oral submissions to the court that there was a need for retribution because of the repeated behaviour.
He indicated Ms Denny had crossed a line whereby a custodial sentence was needed to try to change the behaviour and prevent a repeat offence.
Magistrate Dick agreed that Ms Denny had gone beyond the threshold of a jail sentence. He said she had shown little insight into her offences and was therefore likely to be a repeat offender.
"You've shown constantly that you can't be trusted," he said.
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