'Ass-bo' donkey terrorised pigs

Violent mule Paco is taken from 'idyllic haven' after attacking other animals

A hobby farmer says he is heartbroken after his donkey was taken away for being "violent and bossy" with other animals.

Andrew Harding is facing a 6,080 bill and could be banned from keeping animals after his smallholding – set up for his children – became the subject of a court case focused on Paco the stallion.

Harding, of Bretby Close, Westcroft, appeared in court last week where he was found guilty of eight charges of animal neglect and failing to stop the donkey violently biting and shaking pigs, goats and sheep.

But while the 39-year-old says he accepts the Daventry Magistrates' Court findings, he maintains he saw no signs of Paco's violence until it was too late.

He said: "I rented a field at the back of the High Street in Tiffield, near Towcester, when in late 2008 I took Paco on a trial basis from the landowner.

"His owner said he would be fine with the other animals I had and would be great with the kids. And he was, we had loads of fun there; it was a little idyllic haven."

But, the court found, all the time Harding and his family were at the field enjoying the rural life, Paco was secretly terrorising other animals.

Magistrates heard claims the donkey had also broken into a neighbouring field and killed another male donkey, called Pablo.

Harding told the court he wanted evidence in "black and white" and only accepted the truth when he witnessed Paco "kneeling" on one of his Kune Kune pigs.

He was also found guilty of failing to treat a pygmy goat that suffered from a skin condition, leaving his pigs without water and failing to provide shelter to a saddleback sow and her seven piglets.

But Harding argued the pigs were free-range and so were left to look after themselves in the way nature intended.

Presiding magistrate Sally Clubley told him he was guilty of "failing to investigate and prevent" the donkey's "violent and bossy" attacks.

She said: "You were told repeatedly to separate Paco from the smaller animals and that the fencing you put up was inadequate. Paco and the smaller animals were not kept separately, therefore the smaller animals were not protected from Paco."

Vic Smith, prosecuting for Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards, made an application for Harding to pay 6,080 costs.

Harding later told Citizen First the animals, including Paco were taken away last year by the landowner and he does not know what happened to them.

He added: "I defended myself in court to avoid solicitor fees, but hoped my simple honesty would win the case – clearly my lack of legal expertise did not help.

"I refused to plead guilty, avoiding a trial, because I didn't believe I'd done anything wrong."

>> Citizen First obtained the video used in court of Paco attacking the pigs. To view it click on the above link.

>> Warning: some viewers may find the video upsetting.