A farmer in Northern Ireland has been handed a three-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, on several animal welfare and food hygiene related offences.

Ryan Murphy of Glarryford, Ballymena, Co. Antrim was sentenced at Ballymena Magistrates’ court recently on several charges.

The case came to light following a routine inspection was carried out on his farm by Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD now DAERA) milk inspectors on behalf of the Food Standards Agency.

He received three months imprisonment suspended for two years on each charge, was disqualified from keeping animals for five years and also a fee of £46 had to be paid for his offences.

He committed several offences one of which included the failure to dispose of an animal carcass.

A spokesperson for DAERA (previously DARD) said that it would be regarded as good practice to remove without delay an animal carcass from a farm to prevent spread of disease and protect public health and avoid detrimental effect to the environment.

Animal welfare charges also included:

  • Not providing dry lying areas for animals
  • Failure to provide appropriate feeding arrangements
  • Failure to meet the needs of the animals
  • Failure to possess the appropriate ability, skills, knowledge or competence to care for animals
  • Failure to comply with food hygiene improvement notice
  • Failure to comply with a food hygiene remedial action notice
  • Failing to ensure that milk is protected against contamination.

The Department gives priority to the welfare of animals and operated a vigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirement. Any breaches are investigated thoroughly and offenders prosecuted as necessary.

The food hygiene offences committed in this case presented a serious risk to public health, according to DAERA.

The extremely poor standards of management and hygiene found posed a significant risk for contamination of the milk and ultimately compromised food safety, it said.