Suspended prison sentence for Blaenau Gwent farmer
A Blaenau Gwent farmer has received a suspended prison sentence and been banned from owning and keeping livestock for the way he treated, stored and failed to notify authorities about the welfare and condition of his livestock.
Now farming communities in Blaenau Gwent and Powys are being reminded by authorities of their responsibilities in ensuring they comply fully with the legislation relating to the way livestock are treated, stored and disposed of correctly.
The reminder has been issued by Powys County Council’s Trading Standards Service, which carries out animal health and welfare work on behalf of Blaenau Gwent Council as part of a joint-working initiative. The two councils have successfully prosecuted David Phillips for the registration of livestock and record keeping failures, animal by-product breaches, fraud and causing unnecessary suffering to livestock.
David Phillips of Heathcock Farm, Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, was given a 24-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, by Bridgend Magistrates Court on Wednesday 27 August. He was also banned from owning, keeping and being involved in transporting any livestock until further notice and also ordered to pay £8,200 in costs and compensation.
Phillips had been found guilty of 23 charges in total at an earlier hearing held at Newport Magistrates Court (Friday 1 August). 18 of the charges were under the European Communities Act 1972, Animal Health Act 1981, Fraud Act 2006 and the Animal By-Products (Wales) Regulations 2006 for failure to dispose of animal carcasses in the correct manner and to maintain appropriate livestock records.
Three charges were under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for failing to protect sheep from unnecessary suffering.
Magistrates sentenced Phillips to 12 weeks imprisonment in relation to each of the 18 animal by-products, fraud and record-keeping charges (to run concurrently) with a further 12 weeks imprisonment in relation to each of the three animal welfare charges (to run concurrently). The prison sentences were suspended for 12 months.
Phillips was also banned under Section 34 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 from owning, keeping, being involved in any keeping, dealing or being involved in transporting any livestock, including equines, until further notice. The banning order is to take effect on 22 October 2014, eight weeks after conviction to allow him time to dispose of his livestock. He was also ordered to pay £7356.11 costs, £795 compensation and a £80 victim surcharge.
In summing up the judge stated: “The Animal Welfare aspect is also of great concern: this was a depressing tale of frequent visits, the same problems being identified again and again with only intermittent improvements such as clearing of carcases.
“The attitude to the officials who came to do their job was one of at best non co-operation, sometimes even abuse; a farmer hugely resentful of Council involvement and not being open to any constructive help.”
Cllr John Powell, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards, said: “Given the size and rural nature of Powys and the volume of work we currently undertake, we have developed one of the leading animal health and welfare services in Wales and are well positioned to carry out this important function on behalf of Blaenau Gwent.
“This case sends out a strong message, not only to the farming community in Blaenau Gwent but also in Powys, that we will take appropriate action if we find any breaches. The level of sentence imposed by the court clearly demonstrates the seriousness of the case.”
Cllr David White, Executive Member at Blaenau Gwent Council for Waste Management and the Environment, added:“Let this be a warning to anyone who may be committing similar offences here in Blaenau Gwent. You will be found out and you will be prosecuted.”
For further information on animal health and welfare then contact Trading Standards on Brecon 01874 623420; Llandrindod Wells 01597 826032; Newtown 01686 617524 or email: email@example.com