Category Archives: Farm animals

Aston, Birmingham: Robert Iordan, Florin Nutu and Viorel Manu

#TheList Robert Iordan, born 28/05/1996, Florin Nutu, born 11/01/1984, and Viorel Manu, born c. 1980, all of 41 Dunsink Road, Birmingham B6 6PL – killed and butchered around 350 sheep in Northamptonshire over four months.

Police mugshots of Robert Iordan and Florin Nutu

Between June 22 and October 7, 2019, the three Romanian nationals travelled across rural areas in the county, killing and butchering sheep in order to steal the meat and profit from it.

The trio’s attacks on sheep and lambs, which all took place in the dead of night, had the county’s livestock farming community gripped in fear.

But they were hunted down by Northamptonshire Police’s rural crime team, acting on key information from NFU members and farmers, and arrested.

All three eventually pleaded guilty and were sentenced at Northampton crown court.

In a hearing in October 2019, the court heard the gruesome details of how the alleged operation was carried out.

The prosecution lawyer said: “The conspiracy involved the slaughter of about 350 sheep, all that have been slaughtered inhumanely.

“Vehicles and weapons have been taken to the location on local farmers’ fields, the sheep are captured and a knife is taken to their throats and they suffer a slow and painful death.

“A pipe is then inserted into the throat of the sheep which are blown up, they are skinned and their remains are left at the scene.”

NFU county adviser for Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland, Harriet Ranson, who was involved in the case from the beginning and liaised with police throughout, said she was delighted with the outcome.

“These crimes were horrific, barbaric and unprecedented and had the whole livestock farming community in Northamptonshire and neighbouring counties living in fear that they would be next for months,” she said.

“It is fantastic to see the courts treating these appalling crimes with the seriousness they deserve and handing down suitably lengthy prison terms to these dangerous men.

“This case really highlights how important local information from farmers, the NFU and the public is in helping to bring offenders before the courts.

“We’d like to thank Northamptonshire Police, their rural crime team and the police and crime commissioner for their relentless pursuit of these criminals and we hope this case sends out a clear message to anyone planning to do something similar – you will get caught and you will get punished.”

Sentencing: Iordan and Nutu were both handed jail terms of four years and four months and Manu was ordered to serve two years and 11 months inside.

Warwickshire Rural Crime Team (Facebook post)

Portreath, Cornwall: Nicholas Holley

#TheList Nick Holley, born 23/07/1968, of Tramside Farm, Nancekuke, Portreath, near Redruth TR16 5UF – banned from keeping farm animals after sheep were found starved and mutilated at his smallholding

Animal abuser Nick Holley from Cornwall

Holley pleaded guilty to the following charges:

• Failing to provide adequate food to his flock of sheep

• Allowing sheep to have access to collapsed fencing and broken machinery that could have injured them

• Mutilating a sheep by docking its tail so short that the tail did not cover its vulva

• Failing to shear or provide shade to sheep in August 2019

• On 10 September 2019 caused unnecessary suffering to a sheep by failing to notice it was trapped or to release it from being trapped

Kevin Hill, prosecuting, told the court that Holley had gone on holiday and left a friend caring for 50 sheep at the smallholding, despite the friend having no previous experience of sheep husbandry.

This sheep had been trapped in fencing for at least 24 hours and once released was hungry and thirsty
This sheep had been trapped in fencing for at least 24 hours and once released was hungry and thirsty

Many of the sheep were emaciated yet had no supplementary feed, and the sheep had access to scrap and collapsed fencing. On a revisit, council officers found a sheep trapped in a fence; it had been trapped for at least 24 hours and once released was hungry and thirsty.

In January 2020 the sheep were not being fed hay and had strayed onto neighbouring land and roadside verges to forage. Holley had been cautioned for similar offences in 2018.

The magistrates gave credit for the early guilty plea and genuine remorse.

Sentencing: two-year conditional discharge; £5,000 costs. Banned from keeping farm animals for five years.

Falmouth Packet

Penicuik, Midlothian: William Brown

#TheList farmer William Martin Brown, born 16/01/1961, of Herbertshaw Farm, Howgate, near Penicuik EH26 8QA – filmed by undercover officer punching and kicking sheep

Still from the undercover video footage showing Penicuik farmer William Brown abusing sheep
Still from the undercover video footage showing Penicuik farmer William Brown abusing sheep

William Brown was filmed violently abusing two male sheep by a PETA officer posing undercover as a farmworker.

In the footage, Brown can also be heard shouting “Come on ya fucking cunt” and fucking bastards” at the frightened animals.

Brown pleaded guilty to causing the protected animals unnecessary suffering by repeatedly punching and kicking them and was fined. He was not banned from owning or working with animals

Still from the undercover video footage showing Penicuik farmer William Brown abusing sheep

The Scottish SPCA said it was pleased Brown admitted the offence, but was disappointed that no ban was imposed on him by the court.

Scottish SPCA chief inspector John Chisholm said: “This is a serious case of animal cruelty by an experienced farmer. He will be fully aware that sheep experience fear and can perceive humans as a threat.

“Violently lashing out at the sheep will spread fear amongst the rest of the flock.

“We would expect anyone involved in the rearing of livestock for commercial purposes to have the highest standards of welfare and treatment.

“We are disappointed that Brown wasn’t banned from owning or working with animals but we hope this will serve as a warning that this behaviour is unacceptable and we will fully investigate any reports of cruelty towards livestock.

“We would welcome the opportunity to discuss welfare practice with the wider industry.”

Sentencing: fined £550

STV News
Daily Record

Cranage, Cheshire: Ian McGrath

#TheList Ian Gordon McGrath, born 03/01/1975, of The Paddocks, Sandy Lane, Cranage, near Holmes Chapel, Crewe CW6 8HR – left 35 cow carcasses to decay at his dairy farm, left six other cows in such poor condition they had to be put down

Cheshire dairy farmer Ian McGrath neglected cattle and left the bodies of those that died to rot
Dairy farmer Ian McGrath neglected cattle and left the bodies of those that died to rot

McGrath admitted causing unnecessary suffering after a 2018 inspection of Grange Farm, Over Peover, Knutsford, by Cheshire East Council found some animals had no access to food or water.

Attempts had also been made to cover some of the 35 dead carcasses at the farm, which is now run by people who have no connection to this case.

The court heard the dairy farmer McGrath had suffered mental health problems since his father died in 2014.

Dairy farmer Ian McGrath neglected cattle and left the bodies of those that died to rot

Rachel Cooper, prosecuting, said that an experienced dairy farmer like McGrath must have known his actions were causing suffering to his animals.

But Adrian Roberts, defending, said McGrath had suffered with mental health problems since his father died in 2014.

He was also under financial pressure because of bovine tuberculosis in his herd and the falling price of milk.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders described the case as “appalling” and sentenced McGrath, who also admitted failing to dispose of dead cattle properly, to 18 weeks in jail which was suspended for 18 months.

He also banned McGrath from owning or keeping livestock for life but this can be reviewed in five years.

McGrath must also pay more than £17,000 in fines and costs, and carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

BBC News

Additional info: until June 2018 Ian McGrath was a director of badger cull company Environment Clear Ltd.

Dairy farmer Ian McGrath neglected cattle and left the bodies of those that died to rot.
McGrath is caught on camera by badger welfare campaigners setting a cage trap near an active badger sett

In 2017 McGrath, who is also said to be a keen bloodsports enthusiast and supporter of the Cheshire Hunt, was caught on camera setting a cage trap near an active badger sett.

McGrath is said to be an expert on the spread of bovine tuberculosis and was a member of DEFRA’s ‘eradication’ team.

In 2015 he featured on a video released by the National Farmers Union on the subject of bovine TB.

More information on the companies involved in the UK badger cull can be found on the Innocent Badger website.

West Wales: Sean Burns, Kenneth Evans and John Clayton

#TheList Sean Ronald Burns, born 15/08/1970, of Rosehill Lodge, Ferry Lane, Pembroke SA71 4RG, Kenneth Darren Evans, born 09/10/1975, of 28 Llys Caermedi, Carmarthen SA31 1GX, and John A Clayton (dob tbc) of 17 Rhos Las, Carmarthen SA31 2DY – convicted on charges relating to cruelty to animals at Bramble Hall Farm in Pembroke Dock and operation of an illegal slaughterhouse

Sean Burns (left) pictured outside court with his solicitor
Sean Burns (left) pictured outside court with his solicitor

Sean Burns was convicted of multiple cruelty charges in relation to 215 animals at Bramble Hall Farm, Ferry Lane, Pembroke Dock SA71 4RG.

The charges included the unlicensed breeding of dogs, welfare and animal-keeping regulation charges relating to sheep, horses, dogs, pigs, and goats.

A total of 53 pigs, 80 sheep, three goats, 58 dogs, 20 horses and one donkey were removed from the smallholding after being found living in squalor and without adequate space, food or water.

Sean Burns pictured outside court

District Judge Christopher James told Burns he had “deliberately” inflicted suffering over a “significant period of time”.

He told Burns the condition of the animals was “extremely poor”, and that some dogs and puppies had “died due to the neglect suffered at your hands”.

Atrocious conditions for the animals on Sean Burns' smallholding in Pembroke Dock

One horse was found with a pipe stuck in its hoof and two horses were found with no access to food or water.

They also found 10 newborn puppies in a plastic food bowl, two of which were dead.

Prosecutor Alexander Greenwood said the dogs were kept in a “hazardous environment”, with no bedding, and the floor wet with urine and faeces.

Atrocious conditions for the animals on Sean Burns' smallholding in Pembroke Dock

The court was told the animals displayed signs of “bullying behaviour” as food was so scarce and the bigger animals were keeping the smaller animals away from food.

The prosecution said this case of animal neglect was “one of the worst examples of its kind.”

The court heard Burns failed to provide documentation for any of the animals.

Defending, Aled Owen told the court Burns “has not got the skills to manage this farm efficiently”.

“Quite frankly, my client is illiterate,” he said.

The prosecution followed an investigation by public protection officers from Pembrokeshire Council, supported by Dyfed-Powys Police’s rural crime team.

Sean Burns is pictured alongside his mother Pamela Burns.
Sean Burns is pictured alongside his mother Pamela Burns. Although she initially faced similar charges to her son, the case against her was dropped because of her apparent ill health

Sean Burns’ mother Pamela Burns (born 12/08/1945) had faced 24 charges but the case against her ultimately did not proceed because she is said to be suffering from dementia.

Sean Burns was also convicted alongside associates John Clayton and Kenneth Evans on a string of charges relating to food hygiene, operating an illegal slaughterhouse and being involved in the illegal slaughter of sheep to produce ‘smokies’ – a West African delicacy where meat is cooked using a blow torch.

The illegal slaughterhouse operated in one of the agricultural outbuildings, with Clayton and Evans caught in the act by horrified inspectors.

The unit had been set up as a makeshift slaughter hall with six slaughtered sheep at various stages of preparation and further penned sheep awaiting the same fate.

Conditions inside the illegal slaughterhouse being operated on Sean Burns' smallholding in Pembroke Dock, Wales

The court was told that conditions in the slaughter hall were insanitary and the floor awash with blood from the slaughtered animals as well as by-products from the slaughter process.

A herd of pigs was seen wandering among suspended sheep carcasses, feeding on the remains of the slaughtered animals.

Approximately six further carcasses of smoked sheep were found bagged in the boot of Evans’ car, ready for onward supply.

Evidence was gathered by officers and the carcasses were seized for condemnation.

A number of sheep were subsequently euthanized for humane reasons and restrictions were placed on the herd of pigs, preventing their movement off-site to address the potential disease risk and to protect the human food chain.

Conditions inside the illegal slaughterhouse being operated on Sean Burns' smallholding in Pembroke Dock, Wales

Clayton was convicted in 2002 for the same offence alongside David Jones of Moelfre Farm in Llanwnnen, John Beddows of Tregaron, Ceredigion, Trefor Williams of Llandysul, Ceredigion, Alun Evans and his brother Richard Evans both of Abernewrig, Lampeter, Malcolm Taylor of Oldbury, in the West Midlands, and Alun Lloyd of Llanfrynach, Pembrokeshire

Sentencing for these offences is to follow.

Magistrates in Court in Llanelli formalised that order for the removal of the animals owned by Pamela and Sean Burns of Bramble Hall.

Sentencing: Sean Burns was given 20 weeks in prison for illegal dog breeding, animal welfare charges and other summary matters. Although Pembrokeshire Council have incurred thousands of pounds in costs, Burns was only ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge at this stage. He was handed an indefinite ban from keeping animals, including having any involvement or influence over the care or welfare of animals.

Milford Mercury
BBC News
Western Telegraph

Bethersden, Ashford, Kent: Tracy Middleton

#TheList Tracy Jane Middleton, born November 1968, of Little Oakhurst Brissenden Farm, Ashford Road, Bethersden, Ashford, Kent TN26 3BQ – jailed and banned from owning animals for 10 years after carcasses of sheep, lambs and cattle were found on her land.

Tracy Middleton. who was jailed after leaving dozens of animals to starve to death on her farm
Farmer Tracy Middleton was jailed after keeping animals in atrocious conditions and leaving many to starve to death

Tracy Middleton admitted 41 charges relating to animals on her farm, which covers 340 acres with 135 cows and 150 sheep. These included causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing to provide adequate food and water.

She also admitted to breaches concerning ear tags, and for not sufficiently dealing with the carcasses of nine dead ewes and 15 dead lambs.

In February 2019, Kent Animal Defenders complained to the RSPCA after finding a dismal scene at the farm, despite the RSPCA raising concerns in 2018.

Decomposing animals on Tracy Middleton's farm
Decomposing animals on Tracy Middleton’s farm

Andrew Price, prosecuting for Kent Trading Standards, said officials carried out a series of visits from 2018 to 2019 after being contacted by animal welfare activists.

The cattle sheds had no dry area for the cows to lie down, the water troughs were almost empty and the mud was so deep that cows found it hard to move around.

Animals had bald patches of skin. There was a dead calf in the mud and one calf was seen in the yard with bailing twine in its mouth.

Middleton’s lawyer, Gordon Crow, said his client accepted the farm was chaotic and badly-managed but that she had been overwhelmed at the time and going through a traumatic time in her life. He urged District Judge Justin Barron not to jail Middleton because of the “untold damage” this would cause her family.

However, Judge Barron said the level of suffering was so serious that the only appropriate punishment was a custodial sentence.

Addressing Middleton he said: “No one could look at those pictures and say your animals didn’t experience a high level of suffering.”

Many of the remaining animals have now been moved or sold, and a local farmer has now leased the farm.

Sentencing: 120 days in jail. Ordered to pay £8,500 costs. Banned from owning or keeping any animals for 10 years with the exception of a cat and two dogs she owns.

KentOnline
BBC News

Alfreton, Derbyshire: Nigel Stubbins

#TheList Nigel Stubbins, born 25/01/1972, of 84 Main Street, Newton, Alfreton DE55 5TE – for brutal handling of a collapsed cow in an abattoir

Nigel Stubbins

Nigel Stubbins was found guilty of two counts of unlawful handling of a dairy cow, in addition to an earlier guilty plea for inappropriately transporting a horned bull in the same compartment as other cattle.

Stubbins was caught on CCTV at Foyle Abattoir in Cinderford, using an electrical goad and excessive pulling to attempt to move a Holstein Fresian cow for about 45 minutes.

The incident occurred on November 13, 2018, when Stubbins arrived at the abattoir at 9pm outside normal operational hours.

He proceeded to unload cattle from a compartment. The CCTV footage showed that when he opened the lorry’s top rear compartment, one of the cows was down and slid down the ramp.

Stubbins then spent 45 minutes trying to get the cow to stand and walk into a pen when it was evident from the footage the cow couldn’t get up and remain on her feet.

Stubbins tried various methods to get the cow to stand up, including pulling her by the nose, using ropes to drag her round, and excessive use of an electric goad over a half-hour period.

There are strict rules in place for the use of electric goads. They should not be used repeatedly when animals fail to respond and when the cattle are unable to get up.

It is also specifically prohibited to lift or drag animals by the head, ears, horns, legs, tail or fleece, or handle them in such a way as to cause them unnecessary pain or suffering.

Sentencing: fined £1,055 and ordered to pay £2,000 towards prosecution costs and a £155 victim surcharge.

GloucestershireLive

Belper, Derbyshire: Stephen and Susan Hitchcock

#TheList Stephen Hitchcock, born c. 1984, and sister Susan Hitchcock, born c. 1981, both of Slades Farm, Whitewells Lane, Belper DE56 2DN – for the ill-treatment of cattle on their farm

Siblings Stephen and Susan Hitchcock neglected animals on their farm and also breached farming regulations relating to the disposal of dead livestock
Siblings Stephen and Susan Hitchcock neglected animals on their farm and also breached farming regulations relating to the disposal of dead livestock

Stephen and Susan Hitchcock admitted to failing to protect animals from pain and suffering and not following strict regulations on disposing of dead livestock at their farm.

Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court heard how the siblings had taken on the farm from their father, who died in 2011.

The court heard how officials visited the farm on May 14, 2018, and the site was described to have some “500 cattle and 400 sheep”.

During their visit they found piles of decomposing carcasses in different areas of the farm and the remains of a bonfire that had “bones and other materials”.

Will Douglas-Jones, prosecuting said they also found two cows tied by the neck to a wall.

He said: “The chain was short and restricted normal movement.

“When provided with water they drank heavily and for an extensive period. They found the remains of a bonfire with bones, wood and other material.”

The court heard that on their initial arrival they found 20 sheep that were in “good condition”.

Mr Douglas-Jones said that during the inspection, Susan Hitchcock claimed she had been “unable to cope” and had told Stephen on “numerous occasions”.

The pair had also pleaded guilty to not protecting a cow laid in a field from pain and suffering before it died.

The court heard how the inspectors returned the following days where improvements had been made.

They returned again, on May 31, 2018, and there were “no further welfare issues”.

Sentencing: eight-week prison sentence suspended for two years. They were each told to pay costs of £3,716.75 and a £115 victim surcharge

Derbyshire Telegraph

Kettering, Northamptonshire: Reece Reed

#TheList Reece Reed (aka Reece Howard-Reed), born c. 2000, most recently of Club Street, Kettering NN16 8RP – mutilated a prize-winning miniature horse by stabbing him 20 times; ripped the wings off three chickens

Farmyard prowler and animal abuser Reece Reed previously of Kettering, Northamptonshire
Farmyard prowler and animal abuser Reece Reed was caught naked from the waist down in a chicken coop

Reed, who has previous convictions for burglary and vehicle theft, attacked the animals in April 2018 after breaking into a Wellingborough farm. The farm owner was alerted by a burglar alarm at 07:30 a.m.

Farmyard prowler and animal abuser Reece Reed previously of Kettering, Northamptonshire

Prosecutor Priya Bakshi told the court: “He ran to the summer house to investigate. There he found a shovel, and saw one window had been pried open and another had been smashed.

“He peered through the window. There, he saw a man with a six-inch kitchen knife inside the chicken coop.”

The farmer scared off the armed man – Reed, who was naked from the waist down – before searching his stables to see if any animals had been hurt.

Victim Sol suffered appalling knife injuries during a sadistic attack by Reece Reed
Victim Sol suffered appalling knife injuries during a sadistic attack by Reece Reed

It was then that he found his daughter’s prize-winning miniature show horse Sol. His back legs and rear had been stabbed 20 times and he was bleeding heavily.

Additionally, Reed had cut the wings off of three chickens. They had to be put down.

In court, the judge heard how Sol was a prize winner worth over £3,000 and was on track to becoming a champion show horse.
But following the attack, Sol was rendered unfit to compete ever again.

Victim Sol suffered appalling knife injuries during a sadistic attack by Reece Reed

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Sol’s owner said: After I learned that Sol had been hurt I was devastated and heartbroken.

“Sol was and is my best friend and he will always be part of the family.”

Reed later pleaded guilty to the offence.

His defence barrister, Osmun Munir, said the 19-year-old was “remorseful and expresses sympathy for the family”.

But in sentencing, Judge Fowler was unable to jail Reed for more than two months over the mutilations – because the attacks were charged as “criminal damage” rather than, for example, animal cruelty.

He told Reed: “This episode can only be described as wholly despicable. The charges that you face today do not reflect the wickedness of your behaviour.

“This has been treated as if it were criminal damage against two inanimate objects. It isn’t. And it is in my view and error that ought to be corrected.”

Reed was already serving a sentence of three years and seven months at Peterborough HMP imposed in March 2019 for previous crimes.

Sentencing: two months in jail for mutilating the animals and six months for carrying the knife.

Northamptonshire Chronicle

Burton, Rossett, Wrexham: Wilfred and Ian Francis

#TheList Wilfred Francis, born c. 1981, and his brother Ian Martin Francis, born c. 1983, both of Yr Ackery Farm, Dark Lane, Burton, Rossett, Wrexham LL12 0AE – for the mistreatment of cattle on their farm

Cruel and negligent farmers Wilfred Francis and Ian Martin Francis of Wrexham, Wales
Wilfred Francis (left) and his brother Ian Francis were not banned from keeping animals despite their shocking neglect of cattle on their farm

Wilfred and Ian Francis pleaded guilty to a number of offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

On February 5, 2019, an unannounced visit by Wrexham Council was made to the farm after receiving a complaint of a dog eating a dead calf.

On arrival at the farm officers of the Food and Farming team accompanied by an Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) Vet found dead cattle and calves, animals with none or insufficient bedding. Some were without food and water and had access to hazardous object around the premises.

Ian Dillon, acting on behalf of the council, told the court: “Two dead cattle were being picked at by chickens. One had been unlawfully killed by Wilfred Francis by injecting it with anaesthetic.

“One cow had to be put to sleep after because it was left without medication after breaking its hip calfing two weeks previously.”

Mr Dillon said: “There were other cows with no access to water or food, some kept near to scrap metal which could have caused them harm and a general failure to clean and disinfect to keep away flies and disease.

“Waste food products had been left on the farm. Mince pies, cup cakes and ice cream was fed to the cattle. Some animals were left lying in slurry.”

Photographs taken by animal welfare officers showed animals living in squalid conditions. The officers made subsequent visits to the farm.

Mr Dillon said: “One calf was drowning in slurry. Another had been born the previous evening and had little bedding that was filled with slurry. The cow that had given birth was exhausted and had been given no food or water.

“Another newborn calf seen on March 5 was only just able to keep its nose above the slurry.”

Conditions did improve said Mr Dillon but eventually, the council applied to seize animals in May 2019 to stop unnecessary suffering. The herd reduced from 140 down to 40 head of cattle.

Sentencing: 16-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months. Ordered to pay £3,000 costs each to Wrexham County Council – at a minimum rate of £50 per month. There was no order against the brothers keeping animals in the future.

Daily Post
Wrexham.com