A livestock auction mart in Blackburn where 35 lame sheep were put on sale has been given a six-month conditional discharge following a prosecution brought by trading standards.
Farmer James Andrew Drake brought 35 young sheep to Gisburn Auction Marts on June 24, last year. County council animal welfare officer Stephen Green, who was on duty at the auction, noticed that the animals were showing signs of lameness and assessed that they were unfit to be put on sale.
However, according to trading standards prosecutor Nick McNamara, “the sheep already appeared to have been sorted into sale lots as they were being driven into separate numbered sale pens”.
In its defence, Gisburn Auction Marts argued that at that point, no decision had been made to put the sheep on sale and that they were awaiting an animal welfare assessment to determine whether they should enter the auction. The company pleaded not guilty to a single count of permitting unfit animals to be exposed for sale.
The company was found guilty though and ordered to pay £2,904 costs.
District Judge James Clarke accepted the company’s assertion that it had not deliberately disregarded the law and that the situation had developed quickly. But he found that there had been a failure in the market’s procedures and that, since there were no detention notices placed on the pens in which the animals were being held, there was nothing to prevent them from being sold.
Drake had already pleaded guilty earlier this year for permitting unfit animals to be exposed for sale. He was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £1,480 costs.