A MAN has been ordered to pay fines and court costs of more than £5,700 after pleading guilty to illegally killing a cow on a Gisburn farm in 2019.

Thomas Noel Mullin, 65, of Huck Hill Farm in the Marsden area of Huddersfield, changed his pleas to guilty on day one of a two-day trial at Burnley Magistrates' Court on Wednesday last week.

The court was told how Mullin's employer, Northern Fallen Stock of Dalton-in-Furness in Cumbria, had sent him to Westby Hall Farm in Gisburn, to deal with a cow that had not responded to veterinary treatment.

Welfare regulations (Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015) prohibit the slaughter of livestock on a farm by anyone who is not properly licensed, unless there is an emergency.

In court, Mullin admitted that he had not held a valid licence since the late 1990's.

Mullins also told the court that it was not an emergency killing, and admitted to an offence of shooting the animal in the back of the head, which is prohibited by law.

To be an emergency killing an objective test is always required. The animal must be injured or have a disease associated with severe pain or suffering, and there must be no other practical possibility to alleviate the pain or suffering.

Burnley Magistrates' Court heard that Lancashire County Council trading standards officers and a government vet (Animal and Plant Health Agency), who were on the farm at the time, had seen the cow get up after being shot in the back of the head.

It then ran off, colliding with a parked car, before being brought under control. Mullin then made another failed attempt to stun the cow before killing it while it was showing signs of being conscious. Witnesses described how they were left shocked and stunned by what they had seen.

It was not until after the killing that officers learned that Mullin did not have a licence.

Under the regulations, only persons who are properly licensed are permitted to kill animals on farm premises. As part of the licensing process, applicants must be assessed as competent by an authorised veterinary surgeon and be able to show that they are familiar with the law and best practice.

Sentencing, District Judge Alex Boyd, fined Mullin £750 and ordered payment of court costs totalling £5,031.

Following the ruling, County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council's Cabinet Member for Community and Cultural Services, said: "This is a shocking case and no doubt caused great distress to those who witnessed this killing.

"I am pleased that our officers were able to identify the illegal actions that took place on that day, and that the courts were able to bring this man to justice.

"The welfare of farmed animals is important and one which the public care deeply about. Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service will not hesitate to take enforcement action where necessary."