On Thursday 8 October 2020 the DC of the FRC met virtually to conduct a hearing into the conduct of Registered Farrier Mr M F McNamara of Saltash, Cornwall. Mr McNamara was charged as follows:
"That, being registered under the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 (as amended) (“the Act”):
On 22 August 2019, at the Bodmin Magistrates’ Court, you were convicted, following a guilty plea, of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, namely a bay gelding, by an act, namely the infliction of blunt force trauma and physical violence, when you knew or ought reasonably to have known that the act would have that effect or be likely to do so, contrary to sections 4(1) and 32(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, for which offence you were:
· sentenced to a community order during which 6 month period you were ordered to be under a curfew for 6 months with electronic monitoring;
· disqualified for three years from owning, keeping, dealing in or transporting equines, participating in keeping equines, arranging transport for equines or being party to an arrangement under which you would be entitled to control or influence the way in which equines were kept; and
· ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £85.00 and costs of £300;
And in relation to the facts alleged above, you have been convicted of an offence involving cruelty to animals and/or you are guilty of serious misconduct in a professional respect.”
The above charge is brought under sections 15(1)(a) and 15(1)(c) of the Act.
The DC viewed evidence showing Mr McNamara punching the horse, kicking it twice and striking it with a pointed metal object (a tool) on eighteen occasions. Evidence from a Veterinary Surgeon stated that the conduct was not an acceptable way of reprimanding a horse, and noted that the horse had in any event not deserved a reprimand. The Veterinary Surgeon stated that Mr McNamara’s conduct would have caused unnecessary suffering to the horse, both physically and mentally, by way of pain, inflammation, fear and anxiety.
The DC found the facts proved on the basis of Mr McNamara’s criminal conviction.
The DC was satisfied that Mr McNamara’s conduct fell well below the standards expected of a Registered Farrier and constituted serious misconduct in a professional respect.
In considering sanction the DC noted that there had been a serious departure from professional standards, the offence involved violence towards a horse, and the DC found some evidence of attitudinal problems because Mr McNamara failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the criminal conviction in the context of the farriery profession.
The DC decided that the appropriate and proportionate sanction is a removal order.
The DC decided to direct a minimum time before which Mr McNamara may apply for restoration to the Register. In considering the length of time the DC carefully balanced Mr McNamara’s interests and the public interest. The DC decided that the appropriate length of time is 2 years 6 months. The DC wished to emphasise that restoration is not automatic. Mr McNamara would need to persuade a DC that it is safe and appropriate to restore him to the Register.
Both findings and sanction are subject to appeal.
The Chair of the FRC, Mr David Hall, commented:
“The conduct displayed by Mr McNamara was in every way appalling and has inflicted damage on the reputation of the profession of farriery. Together with our colleagues in the profession, the regulator will redouble its efforts to ensure high standards of equine welfare, such that the public may have confidence in Registered Farriers and the important work they do”.