Animal cruelty case farmer hit with lifetime ban

A Northern Ireland livestock farmer has been banned from keeping livestock for life after his father died and the farm fell into disrepair.

William Beacom of Middle Farm, Trasna Road, Maguiresbridge, was handed the lifetime ban and a four-month prison sentence suspended for three years after being found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering and failing to properly care for animals on his farm.

Mr Beacom, 30, was also found guilty of failing to prevent animals from accessing the carcass of a farmed animal.

Enniskillen Magistrates Court heard that government officials discovered more than 20 decaying cattle, sheep, pig and poultry carcasses, while starving cattle were found in direct contact with dead animals.

Dard veterinary staff who visited the farm every day between 21 March 2013 and 20 April 2013 also found a build-up of dung in cattle sheds and three cows and calves being kept in a silage pit without water.

In another instance a cow was found dead underneath a drinking container.

Dard staff said they were shocked at the conditions and the “above normal” mortality rate at the farm.

Despite repeated visits from officials, the court heard Mr Beacom was unable to meet his livestock’s basic requirements of providing food, water and dry bedding.

Defence barrister Craig Patton said conditions on the farm had deteriorated following the death of Mr Beacom’s father, which had left him unable to access the single farm payment.

Poor silage, his mother’s health problems and the suicide of his grain supplier had all affected Mr Beacom’s mental state and left him unable to find money to sustain the farm.

While he knew what was happening was not right, Mr Beacom was £20,000 in debt and had no idea what to do, said Mr Patton.

His mental health had been so badly affected that a local psychiatrist was concerned he was going to take his own life, he added.

Since facing prosecution, Mr Beacom had sold the farm’s livestock and hoped to rebuild his credibility in the farming world by undertaking farm management courses, the court was told.

Sentencing Mr Beacom, district judge Nigel Broderick said while the death of his father, his mother’s illness and cashflow problems were contributing factors, they did not excuse Mr Beacom’s actions.

Recognising Mr Beacom’s financial situation and mental health concerns, the judge decided not to impose a fine, but said the crimes were serious enough to warrant a custodial sentence.

Mr Beacom, who has decided to appeal the ruling, was told he could apply to have the lifetime ban revoked after two years.

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