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Father and son given final warning for cruelty to animals

John Read (age 70) and his son Sam (35), from Praze an Beeble, have been fined over £6,500 and given a suspended prison sentence for causing cruelty to sheep, goats and cattle.

On 9 January 2020 officers from Cornwall Council’s Animal Health Team and a vet from DEFRA visited the farm. They discovered most of the animals on the farm were kept in unacceptable conditions.

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On 18 September 2020, before District Judge Matson, the Reads pleaded guilty to

  1. Failing to provide adequate shelter, food and dry lying area to cattle
  2. Failing to protect cattle from dangerous objects
  3. Failing to provide ducks with clean water
  4. Failing to provide sheep adequate food.

Kevin Hill prosecuted for the Council and informed the Court that many of the sheep and goats were emaciated yet had no quality supplementary feed, and the cattle were on high ground and moorland and yet had no shelter and only dusty poor-quality hay to eat. The cattle also had access to scrap and collapsed fencing. The poultry were shut in a shed with no water and were thirsty when given water.

Hollie Gilbery and Chris Cuddihee representing the Reads informed the Court that the wet winter compounded by John Read’s ill health had caused a perfect storm. Over this summer cattle, sheep and goats had been sold and buildings repaired, so that the animals would receive better care this winter.

The District Judge gave credit for the early guilty plea and genuine remorse, however as the animals were kept for commercial activity and some of the sheep were emaciated, so had been caused a high level of suffering, a custodial sentence was appropriate. This was suspended for 12 months due to various improvements on the farm.

The Reads were each ordered to undertake 120 hours of unpaid work and pay the Council’s costs of £6,500. They were warned that any future non-compliance would result in prison and a ban on keeping animals.

Jane Tomlinson, the Head of Trading Standards for Cornwall Council, said: “This case involvedwell-intentioned but ultimately incompetent smallholders. Over the years the Council and DEFRA have provided the Reads with considerable advice, but it was ignored.”

Councillor Rob Nolan, the portfolio holder for Public Protection said:“Where officers find repeated non-compliance or a complete disregard for farm animal welfare, the Council will take formal action to protect animals and the reputation of the Cornish farming industry.”