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HomeFarming NewsCourt: Farmer’s animals experienced ‘a large amount of suffering’ – judge
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Court: Farmer’s animals experienced ‘a large amount of suffering’ – judge

A judge has handed a five-year animal ban to a farmer for welfare-related offences.

Richard Scarfe is disqualified from keeping cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and donkeys for this period.

In addition, he received a community service order of 240 hours and a 14-week custodial sentence, which the judge suspended for two years.

The farmer appeared before Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court on January 26th, 2022.

According to District Judge Chris James, animals experienced “a large amount of suffering over a period of time”.

Scarfe, of Park Street, Pembroke Dock, pleaded guilty to offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 by causing unnecessary suffering to animals at Highland View Fold, The Ridgeway, Lamphey, and failing them in his duty of care.

There were additional guilty pleas in relation to cattle, sheep and pig identification and animal by-products offences and obstructing authorised officers whilst carrying out their duty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Animal Health and Welfare team began investigating complaints on land at Highland View Fold in late 2019. They offered him advice concerning animal husbandry and record-keeping.

When officers visited the holding on the Ridgeway at Lamphey, they were “shocked” and “appalled” at the fields’ conditions and the animal’s accommodation.

The court heard land was “heavily poached”, and grazing was “poor” due to overstocking.

During their visits, officers noted that stock were without drinking water and feed. Furthermore, bedding was “heavily soiled”, leaving animals with no clean, dry-lying area.

A vet, who attended the land, raised “serious” concerns over the animals’ poor body condition and condition scored the livestock from 1 to 2.5.

On several occasions, inspectors saw animal carcasses in “varying” stages of decomposition in fields where other livestock could access them.

Animal welfare offences 

In early 2021, following these serious failings under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, Animal By-Products Regulations, and other animal identification non-compliances on the holding, the county council’s animal health and welfare team sought an order under the act to seize and remove livestock from the holding to prevent further suffering.

Scarfe had been given guidance and support by Pembrokeshire County Council Animal Health team along with professional veterinary advice, to which he had “total disregard”.

District Judge Chris James said Scarfe had “numerous opportunities” to address these issues and failed to comply fully.

“Only when court enforcement began, you began to take this seriously,” the judge told the farmer.

“There was high culpability of prolonged neglect motivated by Mr Scarfe. The care provided had been wholly neglectful with levels of incompetence.”

“The multiple numbers of animals in this case seen graphically by photographs are serious. Greater harm has been met. As a result, a number of animals have died.”

“The fact that you thought you did your best is not enough. You have not followed advice when you have been under scrutiny.”

‘A complete lack of care’

Costs were awarded to Pembrokeshire County Council.

Cllr Cris Tomos, cabinet member for the Environment and Welsh Language, described this as a “deeply distressing” case.

“Despite being given guidance and support by our animal welfare team, Mr/ Scarfe demonstrated a complete lack of care towards the animals in his ownership.”

He added: “We will always strive to work with livestock owners when we are notified of concerns. However, we will always prosecute in cases of neglect.”

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