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Man (65) fined for illegally killing cow

A judge has ordered a farmer, who pleaded guilty to illegally killing a cow, to pay just under £6,000.

Thomas Noel Mullin, 65, of Huck Hill Farm in the Marsden area of Huddersfield, appeared before Burnley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, May 18th, 2022.

He changed his plea to guilty on day one of a two-day trial.

The court was told how Mullin’s employer, Northern Fallen Stock of Dalton-in-Furness in Cumbria, had sent him to Westby Hall Farm in Gisburn, Ribble Valley, to deal with a cow that had not responded to veterinary treatment.

Welfare regulations (Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015) prohibit the slaughter of livestock on a farm by anyone who is not properly licenced, unless there is an emergency.

In court, Mullin admitted that he had not held a valid licence since the late 1990s.

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Furthermore, he also told the court that it was not an emergency killing.

He admitted to the offence of shooting the animal in the back of the head, which the law prohibits.

Emergency killing 

To be an emergency killing an objective test is always required, the court heard. The animal must be injured or have a disease associated with severe pain or suffering.

Furthermore, there must be no other practical possibility to alleviate the pain or suffering.


Burnley Magistrates’ Court heard that Lancashire County Council trading standards officers and a government vet (Animal and Plant Health Agency), who were on the farm at the time, had seen the cow get up after being shot in the back of the head.

The court heard the animal then ran off, colliding with a parked car, before being brought under control.

Mullin then made another failed attempt to stun the cow before killing it while it was showing signs of being conscious.

Witnesses described how they were left “shocked and stunned” by what they had seen.


It was not until after the killing that officers learned that Mullin did not hold a licence.

Under the regulations, only persons who are properly licenced are permitted to kill animals on farm premises.

The court heard that as part of the licensing process, an authorised veterinary surgeon must assess applicants as competent and be able to show that they are familiar with the law and best practice.

Sentencing, District Judge Alex Boyd, fined Mullin £750 and ordered payment of court costs amounting to £5,031.

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