‘Weather event’ led to crash with runaway horse, court told

April 13, 2015 | By More

Court House-doorwayBy Nicola Doms and David Clarkson.

Urban horseman Richard James Hayden has had his long-awaited day in court – and won.

All of it was barefoot, and some of it was in Maori.

Hayden, 37, had insisted that the trial be conducted in Te Reo Maori – an option he is allowed, so an interpreter was sitting with him in court.

However, the proceedings basically went ahead in English before Judge David Ruth in the Christchurch District Court, more than a year after the incident in which his horse was injured in an accident.

Hayden denied a charge of not having control of his horse with reckless disregard for the safety of others. He represented himself in court.

The police said the horse ran loose and was eventually struck by a car on the Southern Motorway. The horse was injured and had to be euthanised. The $4500 car that struck it was written off, but the driver was not injured.

Police witnesses said Hayden arrived on the scene of the crash riding his other horse. They said in evidence that they believed he was drunk and abusive towards the police, but he left when told to.

Hayden gave evidence that he was leaving Church Square in Addington, riding one horse and leading the other one on a rope when the weather turned “totally unexpectedly” with the wind howling. The horse, Archie, got a fright, pulling him off the back of the horse he was riding.

The spooked horse then jumped a fence and ran off down the street. Hayden held on to the broken reins of the horse he had been riding, got back on, and went to look for Archie.

He later found the rope and broken head-collar that had been on Archie, on Poulson Street, Addington.

Police prosecutor Glenn Henderson accused him of lying about having Archie under control, but Hayden replied that it would not have been possible to have guided the horse without having it on a lead. He asked how he would have got it to Addington in the first place.

Mr Henderson questioned him about other instances – perhaps 10 times – when the Christchurch City Council had been involved because he had horses on the loose. Hayden admitted he had sometimes paid fees to get the horses back.

Witnesses told the court of seeing a horse running in Addington with neither saddle, bridle, nor rope. It had no rope at the time of the crash when the car ran into the horse on the motorway, on a night the judge described as dark and rainy.

Constable Glenn Alder said the horse was euthanised because it had an injured back leg, and had a fist-sized hole in its chest. Fruitless inquiries were made for veterinary help before it was shot in the forehead with a rifle.

The witness said Hayden may have been intoxicated when he approached on horseback. He was “yelling, swearing, asking what they were doing, and hurling abuse”, a constable said. Some of what he said was incoherent and he was dishevelled and belligerent towards the police.

Judge Ruth said the only witness to how the horse got loose was Hayden himself and the judge was not able to simply reject his account of it. The “only and inevitable course” was to dismiss the charge.


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