Four Staffordshire farmers have been sentenced for conspiring to fraudulently trade calves and breach TB restriction rules following a prosecution brought by Staffordshire County Council’s Animal Health Team.
Johnathan Pickford (42), Robert James (62), Hazel Woodward (71) and Neil Timmis (54) all pleaded guilty to moving cattle from a premises that was under bovine TB restrictions, and then fraudulently reidentifying the animals to make it appear they had been born on their farms.
Pickford, James and Woodward were fined £500, £416 and £192 respectively. Timmis, who was the ringleader of the operation, was sentenced separately to a 12-week suspended prison sentence. All four defendants were also ordered to pay £866 each towards costs.
The court was told how officers from Staffordshire County Council’s Animal Health Team visited Pickford’s premises at Spotacre Farm on January 29 following an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public.
On the same day, officers also attended the premises of the other three defendants in connection with the illegal movement of calves.
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council said: “Thankfully the vast majority of Staffordshire farmers act responsibly and play an important part in our rural economy. Unfortunately on rare occasions we do get cases like this and our trading standards team will act accordingly to protect animals and legitimate businesses.
“The rules relating to bovine tuberculosis are very clear, and are in place to prevent the spread of the disease. To remove animals from a herd that is under restriction, which these individuals did, completely undermines the rules and could have contributed to the spreading of the disease. We are pleased this case has reached a successful conclusion.”