Farmer admits animal welfare offences


South Yorkshire Magistrates have handed a farmer and transporter a 20 month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, after he admitted to a string of animal welfare offences.

Keith Philip Allen appeared at Barnsley Magistrates Court yesterday, having previously pleaded guilty to the offences relating to the welfare and transportation of two bovines at an earlier hearing.

An Animal Welfare Officer employed by Barnsley Council was undertaking a routine inspection of animals and transporters at a slaughter house in the Barnsley area when he noticed one of the cows owned by Mr Allen presented in a poor state of health.

The officer requested an examination of the cow by the official veterinary on site who confirmed that transporting the cow with a badly infected eye had caused unnecessary suffering and the decision was taken to have the animal put down immediately.

The defendant was sentenced to four months custody for each of the five offences, to run concurrently. The prison sentence was suspended for 24 months.

Additionally Mr Allen, of Malton, North Yorkshire, was fined £2,000 for each offence and ordered to pay the full prosecution costs of £1,689.36 as well as a £15 victim surcharge.

The total fine amounted to £11,769.36.

The Chair of Magistrates informed Mr Allen that the offences were so serious that the custody threshold had been crossed; aggravated by the defendant’s previous convictions for similar offences against animals and the particular distress caused to the animal in this case. It was also noted that Mr Allen had delegated his responsibility negligently to his employee. A sentence of unpaid work had been deemed unsuitable in the pre-sentence report which stated that Mr Allen had not convinced the court that he would make himself available regularly enough to meet his court obligations. Full credit was given to the defendant for entering an early guilty plea.

In mitigation, Mr Allen stated that he was unaware of the requirement to provide an animal transport certificate and said that transportation of the injured cow was a mistake due to a misunderstanding by his driver.

Councillor Roy Miller, Cabinet spokesperson for Place said: “This was a distressing case of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and failure to have the required transport certificates. Our animal health officers carry out regular spot checks on vehicles and premises to ensure animal welfare legislation is adhered to. Anyone found to be in breach of the legislation to protect animals will be investigated and appropriate action taken.”