Two farmworkers have admitted causing animal cruelty after being secretly filmed beating pigs on a Norfolk farm.

Geoffrey Towell and James Dove were filmed hitting sows and piglets with plastic pipes and a metal bar by animal rights group Animal Equality while working at Harling Farm, East Harling.

Towell, 54, from Eccles Road, East Harling, pleaded guilty to five counts of cruelty to pigs and piglets, contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The court heard how Towell had hit five sows with a plastic pipe, one 35 times, and how he had unlawfully killed three pigs by hitting them on the head with a metal bar and using unnecessary force while handling piglets.

“We were appalled when we saw the footage of pigs being kicked, beaten and handled so cruell.”
RSPCA inspector Ben Kirby

He also pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to protect pigs from pain and suffering by lifting pigs by the ears and dropping them from waist height.

Dove, 27, from Arundel Road, Wymondham, Norfolk, pleaded guilty to two charges of cruelty by hitting sows with a plastic pipe and throwing pigs over a barrier.

He also pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to protect pigs from suffering by lifting them with excessive force, lifting pigs by the ear and leg, dropping them to the ground and kicking them while moving them.

Both men appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court in Norfolk on Thursday (26 July).

District Judge Peter Veits warned the pair that they could be jailed.

An RSPCA official attended the farm on 10 February this year after being made aware of the footage by Animal Equality.

“We were appalled when we saw the footage of pigs being kicked, beaten and handled so cruelly,” RSPCA inspector Ben Kirby.

“All animals deserve to be treated with kindness and respect – whether they are pets, wildlife or livestock.

“This has been a very sad case but we are pleased those responsible for this horrific cruelty have been brought before the courts and have guilty pleas have been entered.”

The case was adjourned for sentencing until next month so probation reports can be prepared.