Alan Barnfield – 4 year for sexual abuse of a Shetland Pony

Alan Barnfield – 4 year for sexual abuse of a Shetland Pony

Photo from the Sheffield Star


Our attention was drawn by Matthew Bolt to the case of Alan Barnfield, the Doncaster man who was caught in 2012 in flagrante with a Shetland Pony named Sky.

He denied any wrongdoing, and was acquitted of having intercourse with Sky, but was convicted of Outraging Public Decency as ‘the jury were sure a sexual assault on the pony had taken place‘.

Sky suffered some injuries as a result of this and, in a slightly unusual feature, a victim impact statement was given. This was presented by Sky’s owner who said that Sky had “changed after the assault and she would avoid the area where the attack happened, ‘shake and tremble’ and kick out at people” before having to be rehoused.

Mr Barnfield was sentenced to 4 years in prison, with the Judge saying that “he had a ‘utterly disgusting perversion’.


Is the sentence too long?

Yes. Without a doubt. It is always hard working off a news report, but we can say here that unless there are other offences he was being sentenced for (and we’re pretty sure there’s not), the the sentence is certainly too long.

Although this offence is a sexual one, it is not covered by the Sexual Offences Guidelines, presumably because it is so rare that it is not needed very often.

The offence of intercourse with an animal is under s69 Sexual Offences Act 2003. This has a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison. The offence of outraging public decency actually has a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but here it was clearly down as an alternative (and less serious offence).

It is a basic principle in a case such as this that sentence must be lower for the lesser offence. In the case of Hardy [2013] EWCA Crim 2125, Mr Hardy had been convicted of outraging public decency for masturbating in public. The Court of Appeal used the Sentencing Guidelines on exposure in determining the correct sentence.

Here, the Judge should have taken the sentence for the full offence of intercourse with Sky and reduced it to take account of the fact that he was convicted of a less serious offence. We don’t know anything about Mr Barnfield, but we would have expected a sentence certainly no higher than 18 months. We would expect an appeal do succeed and Mr Barnfield’s sentence to be halved (at least).

Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.


  1. Having known Mr Barnfield in excess of 8 years, i can honestly, hand on heart, say this accused behaviour is completely out of character for him.

    Not one person who knew him would have ever seen an event like this raising its ugly head with him in the spotlight.

    I have always known him to be a loyal, trustworthy and honest man, being involved in all my daughters birthday parties from birth, my birthdays and my partners birthdays and just an all round good friend.

    My partner and I will not be joining the league’s of his so called friends who were very quick to remark “I always knew there was something weird about him”.

    These people were always quick to give him a hug after meeting up with him, take a drink from him when he offered it and also invited him to their homes – not the normal behaviour exhibited to someone you think is ‘weird’.

    Regardless of what has happened, my partner and I will repay the friendship and loyalty he has shown us in previous years by being there for him when this whole sorry saga is over.

    Hopefully an appeal will be made successfully, seeing the sentence reduced to reflect the crime he was found guilty of.

  2. I’ve known this bloke for some years too. Since his conviction it has emerged he has already served a sentence for a sadistic rape involving strangulation and he now has another seven years after the contents of his computer contained files disturbingly similar to that event in addition to bestiality. I’m very comfortable to know he is away from the public for some considerable time, the judge who handed down the extra seven years said he was a significant danger to society. And yes, there was always something pretty weird about him.