A traveller from Bradford has been jailed after he drove his horse and trap into the sea in front of a beach packed with families in an “appalling and distressing” incident which killed the horse.

David Clancy, 35, from Dudley Street, Tyersal, Bradford, has also been handed a lifetime ban from keeping horses following his actions on the North Beach in Bridlington on July 19 last year.

Clancy initially pleaded not guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal when he was questioned, claiming to have witnessed the incident while on the beach with his family.

However, several distressed witnesses came forward identifying him as the man driving the trap.

Beverley Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday how one witness saw Clancy on the trap being pulled by the horse. The witness said he was shocked when he saw the horse in deep sea water up to its neck and the trap submerged.

The witness stated that the horse was obviously struggling and a group of people had begun screaming. The horse was then dragged back into shallow waters but was obviously dead.

Another witness was watching Clancy drive the horse in and out of the water before going back to their hotel room. Once there, they heard a lot of screaming from the beach and saw a group of males trying to drag the horse out of the water.

Following several calls from members of the public to the police, two PCs arrived at the scene and arrested Clancy.

Prosecuting, Andrew Vaughan said: “He was interviewed by PC Simon Marshall and RSPCA Inspector Geoff Edmond and he denied the offence, claiming instead to have been on the beach playing with his family. He even suggested he’d attempted to rescue the horse and did not accept he was responsible for taking the animal into the water.”

Performing an autopsy on the animal, vet Julian Rishworth found the horse had displayed clear signs of haemorrhaging in the head, nasal passages and limbs. There was no sea water in the lungs to suggest drowning. Mr Rishworth found the injuries were a result of ‘extreme blunt trauma’ and that a lot of force would have been used to cause the internal injuries.

Defending him, Mr Cunner, said: “This was not intentional.”

District Judge, Frederick Rutherford, told Clancy: “You were in a position of total responsibility for that animal and trap. You ignored the obvious warnings of the dangerous terrain, anyone could have foreseen the dangers.”

Clancy was given a 16 week custodial sentence.