Devon farmer admits animal cruelty

Trading StandardsTrading Standards

Posted on: 7 November 2016

An Okehampton farmer has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty following a prosecution brought by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service (DSTSS).

Mr Leon Henry Smith, 67, of Castle Road, Okehampton, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Animal Welfare Act at Exeter Magistrates’ Court on 2 November 2016.

The offences were in relation to his treatment of sheep and poultry under his care.

At an earlier hearing Smith had pleaded guilty to six other animal welfare offences involving pigs, after visits made to his holdings by officers from the DSTSS and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

In December 2015 they 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.

On visiting one field at Meldon near Okehampton, officers discovered it was mired in deep mud and almost impossible to access.

The pig enclosure itself was surrounded by rubbish, planks of wood and other hazardous materials.

Five pigs also discovered suffering in the back of a small broken down van in the enclosure, with no water, and no dry lying area and virtually no ventilation.

At another location near Boasley, Okehampton, pigs were also discovered shut in the back of a van in complete darkness and again without water and no grassed area.

Further visits were carried out in March 2016 to the same locations after more concerns had been expressed about the way in Smith was keeping his poultry.

At Meldon officers again found the conditions for the livestock to be unacceptable – pigs were again being kept in an enclosure which was full of thick mud and no grass and 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 scrap which risked causing injury or unnecessary suffering to the animals.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with cllr-roger-croadresponsibility for Trading Standards said:

“The conditions in which officers found the animals being kept in, despite receiving repeated advice from Trading Standards and APHA officers,  were shocking.

“I’m pleased that, thanks to the strong partnership with our APHA colleagues, we’ve been able to bring Smith to justice and prevent further cruelty to livestock.”

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Deputy Leader with cllr-david-hallresponsibility for Trading Standards, said: 

“Where instances of unnecessary suffering are found we are committed to ensure that animals are not subjected to cruelty and action is taken against those who are responsible.”

Smith will be sentenced at Exeter Magistrates Court on Monday 21 November 2016.

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