An Okehampton farmer has been banned from keeping all animals for 20 years following a prosecution brought by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service (DSTSS) according to the Devon County Council website.
Leon Henry Smith, 67, of Castle Road, Okehampton, was sentenced on Monday 21st November 2016 at Exeter Magistrates’ Court. He had pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to eight charges under the Animal Welfare Act, and was sentenced accordingly.
These offences were in relation to his treatment of pigs, sheep and poultry under his care including a charge of unnecessary suffering in relation to some of the pigs.
In December 2015 officers from the DSTSS and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) visited land farmed by Smith following complaints from members of the public that pigs and poultry were being kept in appalling conditions, covered in mud and with inadequate shelter.
Officers discovered a field at Meldon near Okehampton, was mired in deep mud and almost impossible to access.
Five pigs were discovered suffering in the back of a small broken down van in the enclosure, with no water, no dry lying area and virtually no ventilation.
Further into the field, a pig enclosure was surrounded by rubbish including planks of wood with nails in, corrugated sheets, wire fencing and other hazardous materials. The mud was so deep it was practically impossible to reach the sow and piglets inside.
And at another location near Boasley, Okehampton pigs were discovered shut in the back of a van in complete darkness and again without water.
In March 2016 Officers carried out further visits to the same locations after more concerns had been expressed about the way in Smith was keeping his stock.
At Meldon officers again found the conditions for the livestock to be unacceptable – pigs were again being kept in thick mud and slurry in a trailer without water.
At Boasley they also found sheep and poultry being kept in part of a field littered with rubbish including broken glass, wire mesh, wood with protruding nails and other bits of scrap, which risked causing injury or unnecessary suffering to the animals.
At his sentencing, Magistrates said that Mr Smith had ignored all the advice given.
They took into consideration his previous history of Animal Welfare offences and sentenced him to a total ban on the keeping of all animals for 20 years.
He was also given a curfew order for 7 days per week between 7pm and 7am for 6 weeks and ordered to pay a contribution to prosecution costs of £1000 and a £60 victim surcharge. My feeling is that the financial penalty wasn’t strong enough because the worst farmers need to be hit where it hurts (in the pocket) to realise that animal suffering is unacceptable. But that’s a personal opinion.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards said:
“The conditions in which these animals were kept fell well below acceptable welfare standards. Smith’s failure to follow the advice of our Trading Standards team left us with no alternative but to take formal action against him in the courts.
We are thankful that the vast majority of farmers in Devon treat their animals well, and remain within the law. Those who don’t, like Smith, can be certain that we will continue to take all necessary action to ensure that animal welfare standards are complied with.”
Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Deputy Leader with responsibility for Trading Standards, said:
“Officers work hard to support and advise the local farming community. There are, unfortunately, occasions where cases such as this have to be brought before the courts. This case sends out a clear message that although farming is a business and a vital part of our economy, the welfare of farm animals should remain paramount at all times.”