Jail for farmer who ignored animal welfare advice

Posted on: 13 November 2018

A Devon farmer found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal has been given a custodial prison sentence and banned from keeping cows and sheep.

William Douglas Dolley, of Holwell Farm, Collipriest, Tiverton was also found guilty of failing to dispose of animal carcasses in a timely manner and ordered to pay £2335.

Appearing at Exeter Magistrates, Mr Dolley pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to dispose of animal by-products without undue delay, one charge of failing to ensure animal by-products were kept in a way to prevent other animals having access to them and one charge of unnecessary suffering to a bovine under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The case against him was brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service following an investigation into allegations that dead and injured livestock had been seen on Mr Dolley’s farm.

Sheep skeleton

Trading Standards Officers and a vet from The Animal and Plant Health Agency visited Holwell Farm at Collipriest, Tiverton and discovered a large amount of sheep and cattle bones, including two full sheep skeletons. Most of the bones were partially buried in a large area in one of the fields.

Officers also inspected the livestock being housed in several barns on the farm and found a calf in a weak state with a poor body condition with no access to water or supplementary feed. The Veterinary Inspector decided that the animal had been caused unnecessary suffering as Mr Dolley had failed to provide any treatment.

His conviction follows a trial earlier this year for similar offences dating back to March 2017 when he was given a 20-week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay £6307.

At the time the Magistrates advised Mr Dolley that he could have also been given a community order to carry out unpaid work but felt his time was best spent at his farm ensuring it was run in an appropriate manner.

Following Mr Dolley’s guilty pleas to these latest charges, he has been sentenced to 18 weeks immediate custody and banned from owning or keeping sheep or cows. He has also been banned from being party to any arrangements where he entitled to control or influence the way in which cows or sheep are kept as well as transporting them or arranging for the transport of them.

He was given 56 days to arrange for his livestock to be dispersed before the ban commenced.

Stephen Gardiner, Interventions Manager for Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service said:

“Despite the efforts and advice offered by our Trading Standards Officers and the Animal and Plant Health Agency vets, Mr Dolley has continued to fail to dispose of dead livestock via the approved methods, leaving remains lying in fields or being buried.

“The welfare legislation for animals is very clear on the acceptable standards that those keeping animals must meet. Our staff work hard to help and support farmers in relation to animal care, but when advice is repeatedly ignored we will take appropriate action and work with partners to prosecute those responsible.

“Thankfully, having to take this kind of legal action is rare, and most farmers and smallholders take the welfare of their animals very seriously.”

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