A 23-year-old man reported his car stolen and set fire to it after driving dangerously and crashing into a horse which later had to be put down, it was alleged in court last week.

Alex Cole, 23, of Bartwood Lane, Pontshill, Ross-on-Wye, was sent for jury trial at Gloucester Crown Court by Cheltenham magistrates on charges of dangerous driving, failing to stop after an accident and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The charges followed a crash on Monday, March 7, around 4pm at Cliffords Mesne, near Newent’s International Birds of Prey centre, when a Vauxhall Astra allegedly driven by Cole was in collision with the horse and its 19-year-old female rider, who needed medical treatment after being thrown off.

A car was found later the same day burnt out in nearby woodland.

Presiding magistrate William Spendlove said the main charge could only be dealt with at Crown Court level and the other two charges would also be sent there because they were linked.

Mr Cole did not enter any pleas to the charges which, in full, are:

* Driving a Vauxhall Astra dangerously on March 7, 2022 at Cliffords Mesne, Newent;

* Failing to stop after a collision with a horse and rider in which significant damage was caused to the horse; and

* Attempting to pervert the course of justice by carrying out a series of acts: setting the vehicle on fire and then falsely reporting that it had been stolen.

Peter Balchin, defending, said Cole accepted he was driving carelessly but not dangerously and would also admit to obstructing a police officer as an alternative to the perverting the course of justice charge.

“The prosecution has adequate sentencing powers for the magistrates’ court to deal with this case without the need to send it to the crown court.

“This is because Mr Cole corrected the record within seven days, and we don’t believe the investigation was hindered by this as the period of alleged perverting of the course of justice was so short.

“The matter was quickly rectified by Mr Cole’s own actions and not the police. I understand that no evidence was lost during this short time period and the investigation was only prolonged by seven days.

“There was no actual de facto loss of anything the police didn’t have that they could have made a different charging decision from the start.”

The magistrates released Cole on unconditional bail to make his first appearance at Gloucester Crown Court on October 20.