Livestock farmer fails to overturn animal welfare conviction

A livestock farmer has failed to overturn a five-year ban on owning livestock, imposed after her conviction on 10 animal welfare charges.

The conviction of Annika Beavis, 44, came in March after numerous visits to the farm by inspectors early last year.

There they had found scenes of terrible suffering. Her cattle were underweight, with many trapped in mud, preventing their movement.

Particularly distressing was the death of a heifer, which died while trying to give birth, after being allowed to become pregnant too young.

Inspectors were further angered by Beavis keeping too many cattle on too small a space, and her failure to have the cattle tested for tuberculosis.

Beavis, of Hill Farm, Oxenton, near Cheltenham, was the third member of her family to be convicted and banned from keeping farm animals.

Gloucester Crown Court Appeals Judge Mark Horton felt Beavis had made no attempt to improve conditions on her farm, and was lucky to escape court without an increased sentence.

Beavis’ penalty of a five-year ban from livestock and initial fines and costs of £10,000 was upheld, with the disqualification suspended for 28 days.

Furthermore, Beavis has a costs bill for the appeal for £9000, although this was reduced to £5000.

Her defence lawyer Tim Burrows had pushed for a conditional discharge instead, arguing Beavis had only taken over the farm in name after her parents were banned from owning livestock.

He said Beavis was a victim of her own inexperience and that of her equally inexperienced farm workers, saying “she simply couldn’t cope with the circumstances, the weather and the level of stock”.

While Judge Horton accepted her offending was not malicious or financially motivated, he stood by the initial five-year ban, saying: “We don’t consider five years a day too long.”