A man who stole a woman’s long time beloved ‘pet’ horse called ‘Flush’, which has never been located, has avoided jail on Valentine’s Day.
Roy Archer (58), with an address at Creevy Avenue in Belfast, pleaded guilty to stealing the 24-year-old horse which he had originally loaned from the victim.
However, when the year’s lease was up, Archer never returned the horse and claimed he sold ‘Flush’ for £300.
He recently pleaded guilty to a charge of theft regarding the horse and was back at Ballymena Magistrate’s Court for sentencing on Thursday.
A prosecutor said the horse would have been worth around £1,200 and had been owned by the woman since she got it as a “childhood pet”.
Reading from a Victim Impact Statement, District Judge Nigel Broderick said the horse was of “huge sentimental value and no amount of money could ever replace the horse being stolen”.
Defence barrister, Chris Sherrard said Archer, who was using crutches in court, was electrocuted at work in 1998 and also recently suffered an Achilles injury.
The lawyer said Archer fully understood the seriousness of the offence.
Mr Sherrard said Archer had been entrusted with the horse but had sold it on and it had not been a “sophisticated plan”, and he wished to apologise.
The lawyer said having ‘Flush’ had caused difficulty between the defendant and his landlord and he decided to sell the horse for £300 to avoid any more “complications”.
Judge Broderick said he didn’t believe that and said Archer was simply “a dishonest person”.
The judge said Archer had a “long history of dishonesty” and, therefore, “it was not surprising he stole this horse and sold it on”.
He added: “This was a very nasty and mean offence. This animal was of significant sentimental value to the complainant.”
Judge Broderick told Archer: “It is quite shameful what you have done, taking somebody’s life-long pet that was held dearly, and to sell that for £300 just to line your own pockets was a very nasty thing to do.
The judge said if it was not for Archer’s health difficulties, he would have jailed him; and handed down an eight months prison term, suspended for three years, and ordered the defendant to pay compensation of £750.