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Smallholder banned from keeping animals for life
10:32am Thursday 20th September 2012 in News
A 61-year-old first time smallholder has been banned from keeping animals for life.
Donald Williams re-mortgaged his house so he and his wife could follow their dream and buy land in Lothersdale, Skipton magistrates heard on Wednesday.
But the couple fell foul of planning regulations when they tried to move a caravan onto the site.
They returned to live in Manchester more than a year ago, caring for the pigs, cattle and goats from a distance, the court heard.
When a North Yorkshire County Council officer visited Black Beck Farm in August last year, she found two goat carcasses and pigs being kept in slurry-filled pens.
One of the carcasses was so old it had been reduced to just skin and bone, said Rebecca Brown, prosecuting for the council.
A smaller pig was so terrified of larger pigs in the same pen that it was too frightened to eat.
A DEFRA vet, asked to inspect the animals by the officer agreed that the smaller pig was being bullied, was unable to drink and was struggling to move about on the thick slurry, which in places was up to eight inches deep and covered food and water bowls.
There was also a young calf on the site without an identification ear tag, said Ms Brown.
Williams was a former builder who together with his wife had followed his dream to run a smallholding, the court was told.
The venture had turned into a disaster when the couple, who have since parted, had been unable to move onto the site as they had planned.
They were also completely inexperienced in the keeping of animals and struggled to understand regulations.
In addition, just before August last year, Williams had been diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.
Williams, who was due to stand trial on Wednesday, admitted revised charges. Two relating to the care of a pig, one to do with the proper disposal of the goat carcasses, and one of failing to properly tag a calf.
In mitigation, Nicholas Dearing said Williams’ life had been destroyed and it was difficult to see how he could be punished any more.
“He is a relatively ill educated man who simply did not realise what was in front of him,” said Mr Dearing.
“The land is now up for sale and he does not anticipate a profit. It was a failed venture.
“He invested all his savings into a dream which quickly became a disaster.
“He is in poor health, he has no savings left and he is trying to pay off the re-mortgage.”
There were currently four ponies on the site which Williams hoped to sell shortly and he had no intention to ever farm again.
Mr Dearing added Williams was not a bad man, but had struggled to understand all the legislation surrounding the care of animals, in particular the regulations concerned with the disposal of carcasses.
Magistrates told Williams, of Cleveland Road, Crumpsall, Manchester, that he would be banned from keeping sheep, goats, pigs or cattle for life. The ban, which extended to anything to do with the care of the animals, would run for the rest of his life.
They told Williams that it was so serious that they could have sent him to prison and pointed out he had failed to co-operate with the authorities and had only changed his plea to guilty on the day of trial.
He was also given a 12 month community order with a six month curfew running seven days a week from 9pm to 7am. He will also have to pay costs of £1,000.