A father and son operating a smallholding in Cornwall have been sent to prison for 19 weeks and banned from keeping farm animals for 10 years, after admitting to a string of animal cruelty offences.

The men, who moved from London 20 years ago, were visited by officers from Cornwall Council’s Animal Health Team in December 2020 and January 2021, for a subsequent follow-up visit.

The inspectors found most of the animals kept in unacceptable conditions, with cattle having no food or bedding and caked in dung, and mud-covered sheep shivering in the cold. One lamb could hardly walk and several were emaciated.

In May 2021 a complaint was received, and the inspectors found that goats had overgrown hooves and access to dirty water and that cattle were being fed poor quality hay.

John Read (71) and his son Sam (36) pleaded guilty to the following charges on August 4, 2021:

  • Failing to provide cattle with a clean well-drained lying area;
  • Failing to protect cattle from dangerous objects;
  • Failing to provide geese and ducks with clean litter and adequate light and ventilation;
  • Failing to provide a lame lamb with prompt effective treatment;
  • Failing to provide six yearling bullocks and heifers with clean well-drained lying areas.

After their sentencing, both defendants appealed to Truro Crown Court and the appeal was heard by Judge Simon Carr on October 22.

The Appeal

Kevin Hill, prosecuting for the Council, informed the court that many of the sheep were emaciated and had no quality supplementary feed. The cattle were in poor body condition, kept on high ground and moorland, and had no shelter and no quality hay to eat. The cattle also had access to scrap and collapsed fencing. The poultry were shut in a shed with no ventilation.

The court heard how the defendants had been sentenced in 2019 and 2020 for similar offences and the offences that were now before the court were in contravention of the suspended sentence imposed in 2020.

Judge Carr said the cruely had been deliberate and as such, the 19-week sentence was appropriate.

Commenting on the case, Cllr. Martyn Alvey, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for Public Protection and Enforcement Services said:

“This is a shocking case of long-term cruelty to animals. Where officers find non-compliance and a complete disregard for farm animal welfare, the Council will take formal action to protect animals and the reputation of the Cornish farming industry.”