Scales of justice© Rex Features/Simon Montgomery / Robert Harding

A cattle dealer who repeatedly flouted bovine TB regulations has been jailed for four months.

Anthony Kirkham, from Ridley Farm, Tarporley, in Cheshire, bought and sold up to 10,000 animals a year.

However, South Cheshire magistrates heard Mr Kirkham had put the health of the national herd at risk by breaching strict disease control regulations.

See also: Opinion: England should have post-movement TB testing

Cheshire East Council’s animal health and welfare team carried out routine checks and discovered that he had moved cattle within days of buying them at markets in Chelford, Cheshire, and Shropshire.

His actions breached strict controls brought into force after the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 – and long-standing controls applying to bovine TB.

Mr Kirkham, 70, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of breaching TB and disease control orders at South Cheshire Magistrates’ Court in November.

Jailing Mr Kirkham at Chester Crown Court on 12 January, Recorder Michael Blakey said his offences were so serious that an immediate custodial sentence was “the only option”.

The judge said he had risked the spread of deadly diseases in cattle, which could have caused destruction and financial loss.

The court was told that Mr Kirkham re-offended just three days after receiving a suspended sentence for similar breaches in May 2013.

Mr Kirkham appeared before Stafford magistrates in December for failing to produce movement records and was conditionally discharged.

Over many years of dealing in cattle, he has received more than £20,000 in fines for breaking strict movement orders and has been ordered to pay more than £24,000 in costs.

Speaking after sentencing, East Cheshire councillor Les Gilbert said Mr Kirkham had shown “total disregard” for animal welfare regulations and the livelihoods of other farmers in Cheshire who were still struggling with the impact of bovine TB.

He added: “The risk caused to other farmers and animals by the irresponsible actions of this man is totally unacceptable.”