A pair of farmers who committed animal welfare offences have been given lifetime bans from keeping livestock following an investigation and prosecution by Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Animal Health team.
Charles Gibson (51) and Alison Bailey (44), both from Leonards Farm, Biddulph Moor, pleaded guilty to multiple animal welfare offences at a hearing on 21 April 2023 at Cannock Magistrates Court.
Wheelton Farms Ltd, represented by Director Martin Wheelton (55), also pleaded guilty to cattle identification and movement offences.
During an inspection of Leonards Farm in May 2020, Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards Animal Health Officers encountered one of the worst cruelty cases they had ever witnessed. Young calves were found in extremely poor conditions, with dead animals in pens alongside live animals. Animals were also provided with inadequate food, water and dry lying materials.
The Staffordshire team immediately took the animals into their possession in order to prevent further suffering.
Untagged calves were found at the farm which had been supplied by Wheelton Farms Ltd, which was found to be complicit in failing to comply with traceability requirements for bovine animals.
During sentencing at Telford Magistrates’ Court on 17 October, Gibson was given a 20-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay fines of £4,000, a victim surcharge of £128, and given a lifetime ban from keeping all animals.
Bailey was given a community order with 80 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,000 costs plus a victim surcharge of £90. She was also given a lifetime ban from keeping all animals.
Wheelton Farms Ltd received fines totalling £32,000 and was ordered to pay £7,500 in costs.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “Our animal health team work hard to make sure that livestock is looked after properly and there is the required traceability of animals.
“This is a particularly upsetting case involving a number of vulnerable, new-born animals where their basic needs for care and identification were not met.
“Thankfully, the vast majority of Staffordshire farmers and livestock owners take good care of their animals and follow the rules. However, on some occasions, we do see incidents where these standards are not met, as in this case. We are pleased that the court has reached a successful conclusion. This case should send out a clear message that we will take action to ensure the welfare needs of animals are provided for and livestock identification and movement rules are adhered to.”