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23 November 2012, 16:22
The owner of a circus elephant has been found guilty of three counts of animal cruelty - after 'Anne' was secretly filmed being beaten at a barn in Oundle.
69 year old Bobby Roberts from Oundle was also convicted of failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating the animal, which was filmed chained to the ground and being hit with a pitchfork.
Roberts, who ran Super Circus in Polebrook, Cambridgeshire, also failed to ensure the elephant's needs were met by not giving her medication for her arthritis. He was given a three-year conditional discharge at Northampton Crown Court but was not ordered to pay costs and was not banned from owning animals.
His 75 year old wife Moira, was cleared of all three charges following a five-day trial.
The court was shown footage filmed secretly by animal welfare group Animal Defenders International (ADI) of the elephant being kicked and struck with a pitchfork several times last year.
Richard Crowley, at CPS East Midlands, said: ``The images of the abuse suffered by Anne the elephant upset a great many people across the country. ``Bobby Roberts had clear responsibilities for this elephant's welfare, which he wilfully neglected when he treated her appallingly. ``Anne was kept chained up, beaten regularly and suffered significantly as a result. ``Not only did Bobby Roberts breach his professional obligations towards Anne, but his neglect and abuse was criminal. ``He gave instructions for Anne to be chained and took no action to prevent the beatings she had received, failing to provide any training or supervision for the staff member responsible for her. ``Today should serve as a warning that those who mistreat animals can expect to face prosecution.''
Anne is now being cared for at Longleat Safari Park.