A Cotswold farmer has been sentenced to 26 weeks in prison after he pleaded guilty to 22 offences, including burying sheep in a heap of rotting potatoes, Goucestershire County Council has said.

Stephen Redman (65) from Ozleworth, Wotton-under-Edge, received his suspended sentence and was ordered to pay costs amounting to £6,119 at a hearing on December 15.

Among the offences brought by Gloucestershire County Council’s trading standards were: Not reporting animal movements and deaths, failing to properly dispose of animal carcasses and falsifying the birth records of 12 cattle.

The offences

On June 3, 2020, trading standards received a call from a member of the public who had found a partially burnt sheep carcass in an oil drum in a field. An officer visited the field and found the carcass, which was identified by its ear tag as belonging to Redman.

During the inspection the carcasses of a number of other sheep in varying stages of decomposition were found scattered in a nearby field farmed by Redman

Then on June 9, 2020, trading standards received a second complaint from a member of the public who had noticed a terrible stench as they walked along the road, which they identified as coming from sheep carcasses buried in a heap of rotting potatoes.

At least six sheep carcasses were found buried in a huge pile of potatoes.

While on the farm, officers also noticed several sheep without ear tags.

Examination of Redman’s records revealed a suspiciously high amount of twin births in his cattle. After DNA testing was carried, it was confirmed that his records were incorrect.

The cattle passports were withdrawn to prevent them from entering the human food chain.

Redman also failed to record the deaths and disposal routes for a number of cattle that had died on his holding and when questioned about all of these matters, he had no credible explanation.

Cllr Dave Norman, cabinet member responsible for trading standards, said: “It is vitally important that the carcasses of animals which die on farm are disposed of appropriately to prevent the spread of disease.

“The integrity and traceability of beef from ‘farm to fork’ is something that the public rely on. We will not tolerate farmers who undermine confidence in the system.”