Suspended sentence for farmer who showed ‘inexcusable disregard for care of his animals’

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A Glenavy farmer has received a nine month suspended prison sentence after he was convicted of 11 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to 11 cattle, one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a sheep, three charges of failure to dispose of animal carcasses and three charges of failure to comply with an animal by-product requirement.

At Antrim Crown Court on June 9, James Steele (48), from Gobrana Road, was disqualified from owning, keeping, participating in keeping farm animals, being party to an arrangement under which that person is entitled to control or influence the way in which farm animals are kept, from dealing in farm animals and from transporting or arranging the transport of farm animals for 25 years.

He was also sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for a period of four years.

This case arose from a number of welfare inspections carried out by DAERA Officers on Mr Steele’s farm between September 2015 and January 2016.

“The farmer was known to the Department because of previous animal welfare convictions and therefore the situation on his farm was being monitored closely,” a DAERA statement said.

“At these inspections, officers found dead cattle and sheep which James Steele had failed to dispose of. They also had to euthanize a number of cattle and sheep to prevent any further suffering.”

DAERA was granted a deprivation order under the Welfare of Animals (NI) Act 2011 in January 2016. This order allowed the Department to remove the remaining cattle from Mr Steele’s possession.

Speaking after sentencing, Danny Gray from DAERA’s Welfare and Enforcement branch said: “This is the first time the Department has had to take an animal welfare prosecution to the Crown Court due to James Steele’s continuing and inexcusable disregard for the care of his animals. Today’s sentencing underlines how serious DAERA is about pursuing those who continue to break the law relating to animal welfare.”