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A farmer who left dead sheep and lambs to rot on farmland and in buildings has been fined almost £1,000 and received a 12-month community order.

Keith Harrison (56), of Lower Moss Farm, Hulland Village, near Ashbourne, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to failing to collect and store sheep carcasses as required and of failing to dispose of them without undue delay.

The prosecution was brought by Derbyshire County Council trading standards, who visited the farm after a complaint by a member of the public.

See also: Farmer jailed after animal cruelty case

Trading standards animal health officers first visited the farm in March and found four sheep carcasses in the fields, which had been there for some time.

They also found more recent carcasses of six sheep and 18 lambs in and around the farm buildings.

Some of the uncollected carcasses in the fields had been scavenged by wild animals and had not been disposed of in a timely manner as required by law.

Animal health officers said Mr Harrison’s failure to store these carcasses hygienically presented a potential disease risk.

Officers served a notice on Mr Harrison, who was not at the farm at the time, which ordered him to collect and dispose of the carcasses immediately.

Over the following month a series of follow-up visits was made to the farm and more carcasses were found. Officers also noted that sheep carcasses found in the fields on the first visit were still there.

Officers again served notice on Harrison asking him to take appropriate action.

On a visit in May, officers visited the farm and found the situation had not changed, so they arranged for all the carcasses to be immediately collected and disposed of at the farm’s expense.

Southern Derbyshire Magistrates sentenced Mr Harrison to a community order for 12 months on Monday (23 November).

 Mr Harrison, who will have to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work, was ordered to pay investigation costs of £710, a criminal courts charge of £180 and a victim surcharge of £60.

Councillor Dave Allen, the local authority’s cabinet member for health and communities, described the case as shocking.

“Despite several warnings from our trading standards officers, the farmer did nothing to put the situation right,” said Mr Allen.

“This was a distressing scene for anyone to come across and also posed a threat to public health and the health of other animals due to the potential for transmission of disease.

“We are satisfied with the outcome of this case and hope that it serves as a warning to others, no matter what their circumstances, that this is never acceptable.”

At the original hearing, in mitigation for Mr Harrison, the court heard that in 40 years of farming nothing had happened like this before.

At the beginning of 2015 he had been in financial difficulty and had to find another job to make ends meet. He has since sold his flock, keeping only eight lambs.

Magistrates told Mr Harrison that the offences were serious and raised concerns that, although he had 40 years of experience, he had not been able to deal with his sheep appropriately.