A farmer from Callington, Cornwall has been banned from keeping sheep for 10 years after failing to provide adequate care for his animals and not properly disposing of sheep carcases.

Benjamin James Bennett (41) also received a four-month suspended prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court on April 12, after he pleaded guilty.

Furthermore, he was ordered to pay £6,577.89 in costs, as well as a £146.00 surcharge. 

Investgations

In July 2021, inspectors from Cornwall Council’s Animal Health Team and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs visited North Kingston Farm in response to a complaint.  

The inspectors returned in August and discovered further breaches of legislation.

Inspectors found sheep being kept in an unsuitable environment with access to hazardous items including sheet metal cladding and sheep carcases.

Two sheep had been caused unnecessary suffering and were emaciated with other sheep having an inadequate diet. 

Some of the sheep had flystrike, a painful and sometimes fatal condition caused by flies laying their eggs on another animal, and had not received prompt or effective treatment. 

The court was told that due to a family dispute, the size of the farm had been reduced and as a result, Bennett had sought employment elsewhere to supplement his income. This job took his time and was away from the farm so he couldn’t look after the sheep properly.  

During sentencing the magistrates gave credit to Bennett for the early guilty plea, but said that the severity of the offences passed the custody threshold. They appreciated that Bennett had taken on some of the advice he had been given but he had not done enough to address the situation.

Photo: Cornwall Council

In giving Bennett a disqualification from keeping sheep for the next 10 years they stated this would allow Bennett time to get his life back in order. The ban is suspended for 28 days to give Bennet the opportunity to dispose of his sheep. 

Jane Tomlinson, trading standards manager, Cornwall Council, said: “This case was brought after inspectors had given Mr. Bennett advice and guidance on several occasions.

"Mr. Bennett clearly did not take that advice leading to welfare issues with his sheep and a disregard for the requirements of the animal welfare legislation regarding the disposal of carcases.” 

Councillor Martyn Alvey, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for Environment and Climate Change added: “When advice and guidance are given, but not acted on, we will not hesitate to pursue formal proceedings.

"Allowing sheep access to hazards, failing to provide them with an adequate diet, failing to treat them for flystrike and leaving dead sheep to rot in fields is completely unacceptable. I welcome the court's decision to keep animals safe and to protect the reputation of the Cornish farming industry.”