£500 fine for driver who spooked horse
A terrified rider and her horse were thrown on to the top of a passing car after it spooked them in a single track farm lane.
Driver David Pritchard did not slow down as he passed two women riders who were forced into the hedge as his Honda four-wheel-drive went past.
One of the horses leapt into the hedge in terror and fell back onto the car, which also hit the rider's Labrador dog which was running beside her.
The horse suffered an injured flank as it fell onto the windscreen and the dog needed treatment for a broken leg, Exeter Crown Court was told.
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Award-winning engineering student Pritchard, aged 27, of Lathy's Farm, Poltimore, near Bradninch, admitted careless driving at Exeter Crown Court after the prosecution dropped a more serious charge of dangerous driving.
He was fined £500 with £155 costs by Judge John Neligan, who imposed eight penalty points on his licence.
He told him: "This is an obvious case of inconsiderate driving. You live in the area where this occurred so you must know how narrow the lanes are.
"I am told you have a bright future and want to study for a PhD in America and set up your own business with government sponsorship, so I am not going to disqualify you. It seems to me to be more important to get you off Jobseekers' Allowance.
"However I take the view this driving bordered on the dangerous and anyone who drives in that way can expect serious consequences."
Miss Eleanor Purkis, prosecuting, said friends Cassie Sheldon-Smith and Caroline Prior were riding in the narrow lane in Poltimore when Pritchard drove up in his car with the engine revving.
She said: "Miss Sheldon-Smith was 20 metres behind Miss Prior when she heard a vehicle approaching at speed. The driver went round the corner and approached the horses without slowing.
"The horse ridden by Miss Prior was frightened and tried to jump into the hedge but fell onto the car."
Both injured animals are expected to make a full recovery.
Miss Emily Pitts, defending, said Pritchard has recently graduated from Derby University where he won a Rolls-Royce engineering award. He plans to study a PhD in America but in the meantime is setting up a consultancy business with the help of Devon County Council.
He has been unable to put his plan into effect with the case hanging over him and as a result his only income has been £72 a week benefits.