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Farmer banned from keeping animals after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering

A beef and sheep farmer from Gunnislake has been given a 6-month custodial sentence, ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and has been banned from keeping farmed animals for 5 years after failing to provide adequate care for his livestock and disposing of carcasses.

At Bodmin Magistrates’ Court on 7th November 2023, Daniel Mark Hoskin, aged 35, from Gunnislake, pleaded guilty to 8 offences including causing unnecessary suffering to a sheep, failing to care for sheep and cattle, and failing to dispose of sheep and cattle carcasses.

Mr Hoskin, who previously received a caution for cruelty offences in 2017, was given a 6-month custodial sentence, which was suspended for 18 months, ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and was banned from keeping farmed animals for 5 years.

He was also ordered to pay £3,478.21 in costs, as well as a £154.00 surcharge.

On 23rd March 2023 inspectors from Cornwall Council’s Animal Health Team and DEFRA’s Animal and Plant Health Agency visited Belle Vue, St. Anns Chapel, Gunnislake in response to a complaint made about thin cattle belonging to Mr Hoskin kept at Trebullett, near Launceston.

Upon arrival at Belle Vue the stench of carcasses was evident. In total there were 21 bovine carcasses and 9 sheep carcasses, some of which had been there for weeks.  There were cattle without forage, cattle without water and the sheep had scab. One ewe was in such poor condition she required euthanising.

Kevin Hill, for the Council, informed the court that inspectors found sheep and cattle being kept in an unsuitable environment with access to hazardous items including wire, plastic and carcasses. There were cattle and sheep that had not received prompt or effective treatment and they did not have a suitable diet either. The Magistrates were shown video evidence gathered during the inspection.

Pat Haines, representing Mr Hoskin, informed the Court that Mr Hoskin had plead guilty at the earliest opportunity to the allegations made and had been fully co-operative throughout the investigation. He continued to explain that Mr Hoskin worked long hours elsewhere and things had simply become too much.  He was trying to keep his grandfather’s smallholding going but he had too much to do.

During sentencing the magistrates informed Mr Hoskin that the severity of the offences passed the custody threshold. They explained that if Mr Hoskin committed any other offences within the 18 months of his suspended 6-month sentence he would be brought back to court and would go to prison. He was ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and to pay the full costs of £3,478.21 and the £154.00 surcharge.  

Gary Webster, Trading Standards Manager Cornwall Council, said: “This case was brought after inspectors had given Mr Hoskin advice and guidance on numerous occasions. In total he’d had 22 visits over a 9-year period and was issued with a Caution in 2017. 

"Mr Hoskin, while acting upon the advice when given, could clearly not maintain the required standards of the animal welfare legislation over any period of time.”

Councillor Martyn Alvey, portfolio holder for Environment and Climate Change at Cornwall Council said: “When advice and guidance are given, but not acted on, we will not hesitate to pursue formal proceedings.

"Allowing sheep and cattle access to hazards, failing to provide them with an adequate diet, failing to provide them with treatment and leaving dead sheep and cattle to rot is completely unacceptable.

"I welcome the Courts decision to keep animals safe and to protect the reputation of the Cornish farming industry.”

Published 14 November, 2023

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