David Smith
David Smith provided certificates for good health for sick and lame horses.

A vet has been jailed after being found guilty for his part in a scam involving selling sick and potentially dangerous horses.

Veterinary surgeon David Smith, 66, along with horse dealers Aniela Jurecka and Charlotte Johnson, both 28, were convicted last month of conspiring to sell substandard horses.

Horses drugged

Police said Jurecka and Johnson advertised horses for sale in equestrian publications, but text messages revealed the pair were drugging horses to mask poor behaviour or lameness. The women would advise buyers to save money by using Smith, who would give the horses a clean bill of health.

Prices for the horses ranged from £1,950 to £5,700 and they were sold from Duckhurst Farm in Staplehurst and Great Thorn Farm in Marden, both in Kent, with certificates for good health provided by Smith.

Police launched an investigation after the first report was received by officers in October 2010. The horse, called Belle, developed behavioural problems and was lame, and was a Thoroughbred, not an Irish sports horse as advertised.


The trio was charged with fraud in January last year.

Jurecka and Johnson
From left: Jurecka, Johnson and Smith (above) were each sentenced to two-and-half-years.

After a trial at Maidstone Crown Court, Jurecka, Johnson and Smith were last month convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, Kent Police said.

On 11 July, Jurecka, of Collier Street, Tonbridge; Johnson, of Tollgate Way, Sandling; and Smith, of The Street, Finglesham, Deal, were each sentenced to two-and-half-years behind bars.

Detective constable Tracey Brightman, of Kent Police, said: “The criminal aspect of the case may overlook the fact that passing an injured horse as fit to ride and jump is nothing short of cruel and shows a complete disregard to the veterinary oath.

“Unfortunately, in some cases, the horses were so ill they had to be euthanised, causing yet more distress to the new owners.”

View your activity >

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of


related content

The benefits of pet ownership on human health may help the NHS reduce costs by nearly £2.45 billion – and vets should be praised for playing their part by keeping the nation’s animals healthy, according to a report.

5 mins

A former shopping centre plant room that has been transformed into a state-of-the-art surgery marks a milestone for an expanding veterinary group.

3 mins

The RSPCA has released examples of some of the funniest incidents of emergency call-outs for RSPCA inspectors in 2016.

Annamaria Nagy and Sue Dyson investigate some of the advances in diagnostic imaging in horses using studies on techniques to discover injuries.

28 mins

RVN Emma Gerrard looks at the common endocrinopathies that present in practice and how nurses can involve their clients in helping to manage these conditions.

27 mins

Hany Elsheikha and Alexander Beech describe an investigation of suspected parasitic infestation in a private fishery and approaches to gathering findings.

34 mins