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Driving ban for woman who blocked road in row over horses

By Court Reporter

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Clarification – An earlier version of this article referred to horses being removed at Red Wharf Croft. We would like to make it clear that the horses involved were not, and never have been, kept at Red Wharf Croft.

The reference to Red Wharf Croft came from the charge, later admitted by Louise Bain, of The Schoolhouse, Lower Camster, where it was used as the location of the offence. The charge read: “On 17 August, 2022, at the Red Wharf Croft, Lower Camster Access Road, Occumster, you [Bain] did behave in a threatening or abusive manner, shout and swear and attempt to release horses from horse boxes.”

Louise Bain was upset when horses she loved were seized by the Scottish SPCA and she decided to do something about it.

She got into her car and overtook the two horseboxes the animals were being transported in, forcing the drivers to stop, and blocking the road, Wick Sheriff Court heard on Thursday.

Bain (42) admitted charges of careless driving and threatening or abusive behaviour. She was fined a total of £520 and banned from driving for four months.

Sheriff Neil Wilson was told that there were five horses in total involved, three in one horsebox and two in the other, which were removed on August 17, last year.

Fiscal David Barclay stressed at the outset that there were conflicting views about the rights and wrongs of the seizure by the SSPCA but that wasn't a matter for the court.

Bain followed the horseboxes after they were driven away, overtook them and stopped her car in front of them forcing the drivers to a halt.

Mr Barclay said: "Bain got out of her car and made efforts to unlock one of the horseboxes, quite clearly with the intention of releasing the horses. As she did so, she expressed her anger at the situation by shouting and swearing. The horsebox drivers were able to ensure that she was not able to open any of the boxes and the whole matter fizzled out when the accused realised her attempts were not going to bear fruit."

The incident was reported to the police, who received phone calls from people who were concerned about an obstruction on the road or that it was blocked. Bain was found to have left the scene when officers arrived.

Fiona MacDonald said that the accused "lived for horses" and continued: "She was trying to recover the horses as she didn't accept that the SSPCA had legal authority to remove them. However, she accepts that she should not have reacted in the way she did."

The solicitor added that the removal of the horses was the subject of an ongoing action in the civil court which was adding to her client's stress.

Sheriff Neil Wilson expressed concern that Bain, of The Schoolhouse, Lower Camster, had "taken the law into her own hands" on a public highway and blocked it.

The sheriff said he regarded that as the more serious charge, and told Bain: "I appreciate that you were upset over the situation but what you did was entirely unacceptable."

Bain was fined £200 on the abusive behaviour charge and £320 on the careless driving count, on top of the four-month driving ban.

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