Man convicted of trying to feed Greggs gammon roll to police horse

Horse sense: Police horses have injured ten people in two years.
Roll: Francis Kelly fed a Greggs ham roll to a Glasgow police horse© Dylan Ashe

A man has been found guilty of breaching the peace by trying to feed a ham roll to a police horse.

Francis Kelly claimed he was petting mounted police horses blocking a footpath when one of them snatched his lunch - which he was adamant was a Greggs sausage roll - from his hand.

At a trial at Glasgow Justice of the Peace Court on Friday, the mounted police officers involved in the incident in the city's south side said that they warned him to stop trying to feed the horses the "meat-based product" because they were vegetarian.

He was fined £200 but he is unable to pay and will instead serve the alternative sentence, seven days in prison.

Justice of the Peace Eleanor Lafferty found Kelly guilty of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner, shouting and swearing and adopting an aggressive stance towards PC Stewart Coulter and PC Victoria McEwan on a footpath between Victoria Road and Pollokshaws Road in Govanhill.

PC Coulter told the court that Kelly repeatedly ignored his instructions to stop trying to feed the horses what he believed was a gammon roll. Kelly had originally been charged with attempting to feed the horses "sausage rolls" but this was amended to "a roll" during the trial, although no explanation for the difference was given.

The accused told the court he had "done nothing wrong" and that he had wanted to pet the horses because he was "happy" to see them.

"You don't see horses every day in Govanhill. I was just happy to see them," Mr Kelly said. He told the court that as he stopped to give the horses "a wee clap" with his right hand, one of them took a bite of his lunch, which he was holding in his left hand.

His lawyer Martin Lavery asked: "You bought the sausage roll for your lunch, you didn't buy the sausage roll to give it to a horse. So did the horse, in effect, steal your lunch?" Kelly replied: "It did, aye."

He stated that PC Coulter was "being aggressive because he was unhappy because the horse had eaten the sausage roll."

However, the justice of the peace found that although there were discrepancies in the police officer's evidence to the case, she "did not believe the version of events" Mr Kelly gave and found him guilty.

PC Coulter told the court that when Kelly became abusive he stated "I will feed them what I want."

The accused, of Govanhill's Calder Street, claimed in court he did not realise he had been charged with the offence until he read it in newspaper coverage.

PC Coulter, 48, told the court that he and his colleague had been on mounted patrol in the south side of Glasgow on September 26 last year when the offence took place at around 1.20pm.

'Safety concerns'

He said they had spotted another man crouched in a phonebox at the end of the footpath, who he thought was possibly breaking into the kiosk. When he and PC McEwan stopped to investigate, he said Kelly appeared and got between the horses before he began offering the animals his gammon roll.

When PC Coulter moved Kelly away from the mounted horses, he told the court the accused said "get your scumbag hands off of me" and shouted and swore at him.

The court heard that as the horses were to have eaten meat it would not have settled with their digestive systems as they were vegetarians. PC Coulter said that if a horse was to eat meat it could cause potentially fatal colic.

Kelly maintained that he had bought a sausage, not a gammon, roll for lunch and added: "I don't eat gammon." He also claimed the police officers began laughing while after they put him in handcuffs because he was the "first person they'd arrested that day".

Thirty five-year-old PC McEwan, who is based with her colleague at mounted police branch in Stewarton, said that she was concerned for Kelly's safety during the incident. She added: "I was worried they (the police horses) were going to bite him or stand on him because they can move quite quickly."

Kelly stated: "It's unbelievable. I've been four times to court because of this. It's been in newspapers, on Facebook and on TV."

Fiscal depute Lauren McRobert told the trial: "The accused did repeatedly attempt to feed the horses some sort of meat based product and failed to desist when asked to do so."

She also highlighted the evidence of both police officers who thought that Kelly was possibly under the influence of drink or drugs at the time.

His lawyer, Mr Lavery, said that Mr Kelly, who was heading to a Job Centre at the time of the incident, was currently in prison serving an eight month sentence for driving without a licence.

More About Animals