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Farmer avoids jail after keeping 500 sheep despite ban

A farmer, who was banned from keeping animals, has narrowly avoided jail after admitting farming a flock of over 500 sheep.

Philip Govier, 74, from Willtown Farm, Clayhidon, UK appeared before Exeter Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, January 15th.

He was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, following a prosecution by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards.

He was handed a four-month curfew order and fined £2385 (approximately €2,795) with £4140 (€4,852) costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

District Judge Matteson told the court that if it hadn’t been for his poor health, he would have gone straight to jail.

The court heard that Govier was banned from keeping farmed animals in 2014 after a conviction under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

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Court case 

However, following a tip-off from the public and intelligence from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) trading standards brought a new prosecution, during which, the court ordered the flock to be seized and sold to another farmer.

After initially refusing to acknowledge that he had breached his ban, on the first day of his trial last month Govier changed his plea to guilty.

He also pled guilty for failing to provide adequate treatment and a suitable environment for them.

During sentencing, the judge said that Govier showed a “blatant” disregard for the disqualification order, and his actions resulted in further welfare offences.

In mitigation, the court heard that he had been a farmer his whole life and was a “proud and stubborn” man and although he knew he was disqualified, he did not fully appreciate what that meant.

Govier’s defence said it “was not a deliberate act of cruelty or neglect” just that he struggled to keep up with everything that needed to be done.

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