Only in England: farmers banned from owning animals


In the first case, Timothy Dean Harris was sentenced at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 25 April 2023. He received a 20-week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to pay £5,000 in costs and £128 victim surcharge. He has also been banned from ever owning farm animals again.

APHA inspectors were also instrumental in securing the sentencing of Diana Swabey, New House Farm, Devon who was sentenced on Wednesday 26th April, after pleading guilty to 16 charges relating to animal welfare.

In May 2022, APHA inspectors visited Harris’ stock in fields around the village of St Tudy in response to a complaint. Inspectors detected unnecessary suffering in the beef cattle. A follow-up visit in June 2022 showed that whilst improvements had occurred, non-compliances continued to be detected. Further complaints in November 2022 and February 2023 were inspected by APHA.

The court heard Harris took responsibility for what has happened. Magistrates said the case showed prolonged neglect with Harris ignoring warnings and advice. They said this resulted in high harm to the animals, including death.

Ms Swabey’s premises was visited by APHA in March 2022, and inspectors found numerous animals in poor conditions including cattle, sheep, pigs, horses and poultry. The farmer has been sentenced with a 16 week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid work on each of the four unnecessary suffering charges. She has also been banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

Aled Edwards, Head of Field Delivery England, Animal and Plant Health Agency said:

“APHA takes potential breaches of animal welfare legislation very seriously and investigates all allegations.

“These cases demonstrate our robust enforcement processes, and the effective collaboration between ourselves and local authorities. I welcome these sentences from the courts and hope they will act as a deterrent to others.”

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