Farmers convicted of welfare and environment breaches

Two farmers have been fined for polluting a waterway and another has been given a suspended sentence for breaching animal welfare rules in three separate incidents in Northern Ireland.

James Steele, 48, of Gobrana Road, Glenavy, Crumlin, County Antrim, received a nine-month suspended sentence after he was convicted at Antrim Crown Court of causing unnecessary suffering to 11 cattle and one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a sheep.

He was also convicted of three charges of failure to dispose of animal carcasses and three charges of failing to comply with an animal by-product requirement.

See also: Farmer banned from keeping animals after welfare offences

The case arose after officers from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs carried out a welfare inspection on Mr Steele’s farm.

They found dead cattle and sheep which Mr Steele had failed to dispose of. They also had to euthanise a number of cattle and sheep to prevent any further suffering.

It is the first time the department has taken an animal welfare prosecution to the crown court, which it said was “due to James Steele’s continuing and inexcusable disregard for the care of his animals”.

The farmer was known to the department because of previous animal welfare convictions.

In addition to the suspended sentence, Mr Steele was disqualified from owning, keeping or transporting farm animals for 25 years.

Fish killed

Two farmers from Fermanagh have also been fined at Omagh Magistrates’ Court in connection with an incident in the Ballinamallard River which killed more than 190 fish.

Francis White from Magheralough, Trillick, pleaded guilty to making a polluting discharge of effluent to a waterway and was fined £750 and ordered to pay a further £885.60 to cover costs relating to the dead fish.

In a separate case, but connected to the same incident, Brendan McBride of Gragadis Road, Trillick also pleaded guilty and was fined £750 and ordered to pay costs of £354 for making a polluting discharge of silage effluent to a waterway.


Meanwhile, one of the biggest dairy farms in Wales has been fined £36,000 plus costs of £8,500 after slurry polluted a nearby stream.

Cwrt Malle admitted six offences of breaching environmental regulations at the case at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on 8 June.