#TheList farmer Stephen J Croxall, born 03/12/1968, of 2 Whitehall Close, Kingstone, Uttoxeter ST14 8RN – left livestock to die in a frozen field
In a case brought by Staffordshire County Council, Stephen Croxall pleaded guilty to 14 charges of breaching the Animal Welfare Act.
The offences happened in Croxall’s field, in Blithbury Road, Hamstall Ridware, Rugeley.
Charges ranged from causing unnecessary suffering to sheep, lambs and cattle to failing to record the administration of medicines.
When animal health officers visited the farm on January 31, 2018, they found the animals starving and freezing to death.
One lamb was hypothermic and another dead under a fallen gate. A young calf was also found very vocal and thin, indicating it had not been fed or watered. Several other animals had to be put down.
Croxall told the court he was tired from his full-time job as a wood cutter and that vets were too expensive.
Lucy Daniels, prosecuting for the council, said: “It was -3C at 11am. The land was described as white and frozen.
“Officers saw 20 bales of silage, which were black and mouldy.
“When the officers entered the field, the animals were hungry as they were running towards the officers for food.
“There were buckets of water but these were frozen. The grass was frozen and there was no hay or straw.
“A wall of metal in the shed had been broken and sharp edges were sticking into the shed.
“There was also an emaciated calf, which must have been there for days. Officers could see its spine.”
The animal had to be put down, but the vet was unable to find a vein in which to inject the calf because of its dehydrated state, the court heard.
A pre-sentence report on Croxall said: “There was no intention or malice behind the offences.
“He has worked on farms for 35 years and he has entrenched methods of looking after animals and it appears this is outdated with regards to Defra’s code of practice.
“His aunt, who died some years ago, was the record keeper.”
The report also said there was a financial strain on the farming industry and Croxall was spending fewer hours on the farm due to his other work.
It said: “He simply was not there to look after the animals.”
The court heard Croxall’s wife died in 2010 and he subsequently had psychiatric treatment.
Lucy Taylor-Grimes, defending, added: “He is a man who is not good with reading and writing and has found this whole situation difficult to follow.”
Sentencing Croxall, magistrates told him: “There was neglect for at least a week and a number of animals had to be put down.
“We would jail you. However, due to your early guilty plea, your personal circumstances, your education difficulties and the loss of your wife, we will suspend your sentence.”
Sentencing: 16-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months; ordered to pay £1,000 in costs. Lifetime ban on keeping animals with review after five years.