A farmer has been banned from owning animals for 25 years due to a number of animal welfare offences.

James Steele, from Gobrana Road, Glenavy, Crumlin in Co. Antrim, was also handed a nine-month suspended prison sentence.

The 48-year-old was convicted of 11 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to 11 cattle and one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a sheep.

He was also convicted of three charges of failing to dispose of animal carcasses and three charges of failing to comply with an animal by-product requirement.

The Co. Antrim farmer was disqualified for 25 years from:

  • Owning, keeping, and participating in keeping farm animals;
  • Being party to an arrangement under which he is entitled to control or influence the way in which farm animals are kept;
  • From dealing in farm animals;
  • From transporting or arranging the transport of farm animals.

The farmer’s prison sentence was suspended for four years at a recent sitting of Antrim Crown Court.

The case reportedly arose following a number of welfare inspections conducted by officers from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Inspections were carried out on the farm owned by Steele between September 2015 and January 2016; the farmer was known to the department because of previous animal welfare convictions.

According to DAERA, the situation on his farm had been monitored closely. 

Dead cattle and sheep

Officers found dead cattle and sheep, which Steele had failed to dispose of, during these inspections; a number of cattle and sheep also had to be euthanized in order to prevent any further suffering.

A deprivation order was granted to DAERA under the Welfare of Animals (NI) Act 2011 in January 2016. This order allowed the department to remove the remaining cattle from the farmer’s possession.

This was a milestone case for the department, according to Danny Gray from DAERA’s Welfare and Enforcement branch.

This is the first time the department has had to take an animal welfare prosecution to the Crown Court due to James Steele’s continuing and inexcusable disregard for the care of his animals.

“Today’s sentencing underlines how serious DAERA is about pursuing those who continue to break the law relating to animal welfare,” he said.