Suffolk rider 'appalled' at police response after horse fatally hurt in hit-and-run

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Karen Harvey, inset, and her beloved horse, Patch <i>(Image: Harvey family)</i>
Karen Harvey, inset, and her beloved horse, Patch (Image: Harvey family)

A Suffolk horse rider says she was "appalled" by the police reaction to a road traffic accident which resulted in the death of her beloved animal.

Karen Harvey's thoroughbred Welsh cross, Patch - her "horse of a lifetime" - had to be put down on the road after he was left with horrifying injuries following a sickening road traffic accident on October 22.

Despite a call to 999, police did not attend. Suffolk Constabulary has apologised, and acknowledged its response to the initial call was "inadequate".

Karen and her son's girlfriend, Charlotte Speer, were riding on a designated "Quiet Lane" at Earl Soham, near Framlingham, on Saturday, October 22, at around 11.10am when Patch was struck by a car.

The driver, 34-year-old Edgaras Tilmantas from Bracken Avenue, Kesgrave, drove off without stopping to help.

Charlotte and her horse fell into a ditch after her mount took fright. Luckily, although bruised and shaken, neither horse nor rider sustained any serious injury.

They couldn't find their mobile phones so Charlotte ran to Karen's house and called their vet.

Karen, now aged 62, stayed behind with the two horses and within 10 minutes of the accident was joined by the "lovely" village vicar, Gary Best, who had driven up the lane.

He provided her with support while his passenger called emergency services at 11.30am.

Karen said: "She asked if we needed an ambulance and she said: 'We are waiting for the vet'. They said: 'Right, nobody will come out.' She said: 'We don't think the road will be clear.

"It's outrageous they didn't come out."

The Harveys' vet, Ben Ryder-Davies, arrived within 15 to 20 minutes and tended to Patch.

"I knew there was no way he was coming back from that. He was standing quiet as a lamb. Then he went into shock," she recalled.

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Karen said she was "appalled" that the police didn't respond as soon as they called the accident in.

"We were left to manage the traffic as Patch was put down in the road - he was across the road," she said.

"The police weren't even there to help with that. They said they wouldn't come out.

"There were bits of his car across the road."

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An hour and a half after the accident, Karen was taken home by husband, Guy, and they phoned the police immediately at 12.40pm that day, she said.

She left before her horse was put down and his body removed - during which time villagers were left to manage the traffic.

The police did phone at 8pm that evening and an officer came to the Harveys' home the following night to take details of the accident.

But by 5pm on the same day of the accident, Karen and her daughter had done their own detective work and established the identity of the driver.

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CCTV footage from Earl Soham butcher's shop revealed the driver and car - which had other occupants.

By Monday, the Harveys had the registration number of the car involved in the accident.

"We have had to chase everybody all the time. It's really poor," she said.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said two days after the incident, the driver called police and was subsequently charged and later convicted in relation to the incident.

However, the spokesman acknowledged shortcomings in how it was dealt with on the day.

"If more questions had been asked this may well have resulted in officers being dispatched to the scene straight away," he said.

When the second call came through at 12.40pm from Karen's husband, officers were dealing with other serious incidents which meant an officer was not able to call back until early evening, he added.

A press release appealing for information was put out to local media that evening.

“The victim informed the officer that the wing mirror belonging to the car involved was located at the scene and that there was CCTV footage of the vehicle involved captured by local businesses.

"Details of these were taken, and we maintained regular contact with the victim to update on the investigation and our processes."

He added: "A senior officer with responsibility for the control room has now spoken to the horse rider to apologise for our response to this incident," he said.

"The loss of a horse – or any pet – in this manner is deeply upsetting and our condolences go to the family concerned."

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