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19-week prison sentence and animal ban after cattle found ‘caked in dung’

A judge has handed a 19-week prison sentence and an animal ban to a father and son for a string of animal cruelty offences.

John Read (71) and his, son, Sam Read (36), from Praze-an-Beeble near Camborne, in the UK, re-appeared before court last week. They established a smallholding after moving to Cornwall from London two decades ago.

The case arose after Cornwall Council’s Animal Health Team officers visited the farm on December 16th, 2020.

They discovered most animals in “unacceptable” conditions. They told the court that several were emaciated and one lamb “could hardly walk”.

During a follow-up visit in January 2021, the inspectors found the cattle still had no food or bedding, housed cattle were “caked in dung”, and sheep were “mud-covered and shivering with the cold”.

The council received a complaint was in May 2021. The inspectors found that goats had overgrown hooves and access to dirty water and that cattle were fed poor quality hay.

Animal cruelty offences 

On August 4th, 2021, before District Judge Matson, the Reads pleaded guilty to the following charges, failing to:

  • Provide cattle with a clean, well-drained lying area;
  • Protect cattle from dangerous objects;
  • Provide geese and ducks with clean litter and adequate light and ventilation;
  • Also, provide a lame lamb with prompt, effective treatment;
  • Provide six yearling bullocks and heifers with clean, well-drained lying areas.

A judge handed them a 19-week custodial sentence and disqualified them from keeping farm animals for ten years.


The farmers appealed to Truro Crown Court, and Judge Simon Carr heard the appeal on October 22nd, 2021.

Kevin Hill, prosecuting for the council, informed the court that many sheep were emaciated and had no quality supplementary feed.

He said cattle were in poor body condition, kept on high ground and moorland, had no shelter and no quality hay to eat.

He said the cattle also had access to scrap and collapsed fencing. Poultry were shut in a shed with no ventilation.

The court heard how the defendants had been sentenced in 2019 and 2020 for similar offences. The offences that were now before the court were in contravention of the suspended sentence imposed in 2020.

During mitigation, the court was told that “considerable” improvements have been made to the farm and that they had not caused “deliberate” animal cruelty.

Judge Carr said the cruelty had been deliberate. In commercial context and as such, the 19 weeks custody sentence was “appropriate and not appealable”.

The court also imposed a disqualification order in respect of farmed animals for ten years. The judge suspended this for 28 days to allow the Reads to dispose of animals.

Read more court news.

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