THE trial of a livery centre boss accused of shooting a woman's horse before dumping it in a garden has dramatically collapsed, after the main witness failed to attend court.

Liz King, the owner of former racehorse War Kitty, which was shot at the GG Centre, in Raskelf, North Yorkshire, said she was "mortified" magistrates had told Edward Johnson, 36, that he was free to go.

The incident in October sparked an nationwide outcry, with more than 3,000 people signing a petition to have the equestrian centre closed down, while the RSPCA removed a dozen horses in its care.

Martin Hawes, prosecuting, told Northallerton Magistrates Court the complainant and principal witness in the criminal damage case, Beckie Warner, had not appeared to give evidence after giving assurances that she would.

The trial was delayed as the CPS made unsuccessful attempts to contact Miss Warner, who spoke of her devastation after the horse - once trained by Newcastle trainer Robert Johnson - she leased was shot in the head before being left in her front garden in Raskelf.

Magistrate Ron Stead dismissed a CPS application to adjourn the trial, saying it had been given plenty of time to prepare the case, and after Mr Hawes offered no evidence, ordered that costs be awarded to Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson, of Hag Lane, Raskelf, who had denied the charge, declined to comment after the ruling.

The centre's owners had previously said they tried to contact Ms Warner to tell her the horse would be tethered in her garden, but the 16 hands high thoroughbred horse became uneasy and kicked out at staff, so it had to be put down on safety grounds.

A centre spokesman said: "In this business you have to make these kind of decisions and they are not always pleasant or easy, but they have to be made."

Miss King said the collapse of the case had given livery owners the right to shoot horses and called for a change in the law, to give horses greater protection, to stop such incidents from happening again.

The tenancy support worker said: "Kitty was a calm horse, a part of the family, and must have been terrified when people came into her field that night.

"Since she was shot it has been horrendous and it ended up with me having seven weeks off work after I had a mental breakdown.

"Now we are never going to know what happened to her that night, that's the heartbreaking thing."