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Woman jailed after conning cancer sufferer and parent of a disabled girl for thousands of pounds

PUBLISHED: 14:03 17 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:03 17 March 2016

Maidstone Crown Court

Maidstone Crown Court

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Karen Ruston was jailed for six months

A horse-dealer who conned victims out of thousands of pounds has been jailed.

Dartford’s Karen Ruston pleaded guilty to 11 offences under the consumer protection from unfair trading regulations 2008 and two offences under the horse passport regulations 2009.

Using aliases, various contact details and posing as a private dealer, Ruston, from Maplehurst Close, listed horses for sale, claiming they had “absolutely no health issues”, amongst other various traits.

More than one of her victims claimed they had to bring horses bought from her to the vets when health issues quickly arose.

Among her victims was a cancer victim, who was told she could sell back the horse within a month.

But when the victim tried to contact Ruston, there was no response.

The victims were asked to meet Ruston at a pub in Ash Road, Sevenoaks and then followed her to the stables.

Horse transporters were directed either to the same pub where the horses were then brought to them or a Dartford address .

Another victim was looking for a horse for her disabled daughter.

But after paying £4,950 for the horse, the victim discovered it had been sold days before for £650, after the previous owner knew it suffered from navicular syndrome, which can lead to lameness in the front legs.

Ruston’s offences were branded as “repellent” by judge Charles Macdonald at Maidstone Crown Court.

She was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to forfeit her £6,000 savings as compensation on Tuesday.

KCC Trading Standards operations manager Clive Phillips said: “Ruston purposefully listed her misleading advertisements in a manner that her victims not only believed the falsehoods but also in a way that any regular consumer would think she was not acting for purposes relating to her business.

“Not only should consumers know who they are dealing with but they should rightly be able to rely upon claims made to them.

“Ruston has misled people into buying horses that if they had possession of all the facts would not have purchased them – saving themselves thousands of pounds.

“We advise anyone wanting to purchase a horse to not only research the seller but also seek to obtain independent experienced opinion on the health of the horse.”

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