Two farming brothers have received a suspended jail sentence and lifetime ban from keeping livestock after being convicted of animal cruelty.
Paul and Thomas Collins of Trenoweth Farm, Gweek, Cornwall, were sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to do 100 hours of community service.
The brothers were banned from keeping pigs, cattle and sheep for the rest of their lives – suspended for 10 weeks to allow the brothers to dispose of their animals.
The men were also ordered to pay £12,000 each in costs.
The defendants pleaded not guilty at a magistrates court trial which lasted two months before ending on Friday, 20 March. They were convicted of 16 charges under the animal welfare act.
Evidence was heard from Cornwall Council’s animal health inspectors as well as vets from the Animal and Plant Health Agency following a farm visit in November 2012.
The farm visit was part of an investigation relating to TB reactors which uncovered appalling conditions on the farm. Since 2012, the farm has been visited more than 12 times.
At each visit, further offences were discovered.
Severely lame cows were not treated for more than two months; three cows that had collapsed were not given veterinary treatment, food or water.
Pigs were kept with little food and no dry lying area, with only mud to sleep on. Two pigs were starved to the point that the bones of their spines and ribs could be seen.
During the investigation several animals were put down to prevent further suffering.
The judge said the Collins brothers had rejected advice and warnings and, in Thomas Collins’ case, had done so in the most vehement of terms.
The farm had systemic failures to identify and treat animals that required treatment.
The judge felt that Thomas James Collins’ claim that the case was malicious and trumped up was not supportable and that the prosecution case was persistently compelling.
Speaking after the trial, Cornwall Council cabinet member for communities Geoff Brown said the local authority would always take appropriate action against cases of serious neglect.
“The Collins brothers have shown total disregard for the most basic of needs of animal in their care,” said Mr Brown. “This was not an isolated incident.
He added: “I find it unacceptable that in this day and age people are unable to give outdoor pigs a warm, dry, straw bed; treat injured animals and to ensure that animals have sufficient feed to prevent emaciation.”