A man who tried to steal a flower cart by hitching it to his horse and riding off has been fined more than £200.

George Smith, of Canal Walk, Croydon, pleaded guilty to one count of theft by finding when he appeared at Croydon Magistrates’ Court last Thursday.

Onlookers in Stavordale Road, Carshalton, were shocked when Smith arrived with his horse, a chestnut mare, and hooked her to the flower stall in broad daylight on June 26.

The cart, which belongs to florist Christopher Tucker, was dragged through a supermarket car park and down side alleys before police caught up with the 36-year-old and arrested him.

Prosecuting, Miss Elias told the court the £2,500 cart was pulled over speed bumps but was undamaged.

She said: “The cart had been in the family for 44 years.

“If the owner had lost it he said he would have lost everything, and had no way to make a living.”

Defending Smith, Miss McClaren told the court he had recently split from his wife and was struggling to find work, carrying out odd jobs.

She said: “On this day the reason he took the cart was he thought he could make something from it – thought he could use it. He has just separated from his wife, is living with his parents and is trying to get back on his feet.

“Unfortunately on this occasion he was silly enough to go and take this cart.”

She said he was remorseful for what he had done. Delivering the verdict magistrates ordered Smith to pay a £110 fine, £85 in court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Smith denied four charges of animal cruelty – forcing a horse to pull an unreasonable load, beating a horse, fitting an inappropriate harness and failing to provide parasite control.

He will stand trial on these counts at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on November 2.