A farmer from St Breward has been given a 20 week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, for prolonged neglect with a high level of suffering to animals, including death, in a commercial context.
Timothy Harris, 46, of Hillside, Limehead, St Breward had pleaded guilty to, at St Tudy between January and May last year, failing to provide suitable diets to four cows resulting in poor body conditions; failing to treat two lame cows and protect them from pain and suffering; failing to protect sheep from injury by allowing them access to trailing wire; failing to store sheep carcasses in accordance with EU regulations and failing to treat a sheep suffering from fly strike.
Magistrates noted he had ignored many warnings about the neglect and banned him from keeping, controlling or influencing the way all farm animals are kept excluding cats and dogs for life.
In May 2022, inspectors from Cornwall Council’s Animal Health Team and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, in response to a complaint, inspected Mr Harris’ stock which were kept in fields around the village of St Tudy. Inspectors found cattle in poor body condition and two lame cows.
As well as sheep which had access to lose fencing and trailing barbed wire. Further complaints were made which resulted in visits in June and July where officers found multiple carcasses which were incorrectly stored or left in fields. They also found a lamb which had a severe skin infection following flystrike.
On January 3, at Bodmin Magistrates Court, Mr Harris pleaded guilty to five offences relating to animal welfare and animal by-products and sentencing was adjourned.
On April 25 Mr Harris was sentenced at Bodmin Magistrates Court. The court heard that Mr Harris’ father who used to help care for the animals had been taken ill some months before and Mr Harris took sole ownership of the animals and was helping to care for his grandmother too at the time.
Mr Harris told the court he took responsibility for what has happened, and won’t be keeping stock again.
The court said the case showed prolonged neglect with ignored warnings and advice which resulted in high harm to the animals involved, including death. The offences were so serious they surpassed the custodial sentence, but this was suspended due to the animals having been sold. The lifetime ban may not be appealed for 10 years and is effective immediately.
He was ordered to pay £128 victim surcharge and £5,000 costs.
His prison sentence was suspended because he told magistrates he cares for his mother.
Jane Tomlinson, trading standards manager, Cornwall Council said: “This case was brought after inspectors had given Mr Harris advice and guidance on many occasions.
“Mr Harris clearly did not take on board this advice which lead to the welfare issues with his cattle and sheep and a disregard for the legislation concerning the disposal of carcasses.”
Cllr Martyn Alvey, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for environment and climate change said: “Where officers find non-compliance or a complete disregard for farm animal welfare, the Council will not hesitate to take formal action.
“Allowing sheep access to hazards and failing to treat them for flystrike infection, failing to treat lame cattle and provide them with a suitable diet, and leaving carcasses to rot in fields is completely unacceptable.
“I welcome the court’s decision to protect animals and the reputation of the Cornish farming industry.”
Cornwall Council will always try to work with farming businesses and offer support and guidance where needed.