A Rotherham man has been disqualified from keeping livestock for ten years after neglecting a number sheep, including one ewe which was discovered emaciated and covered in maggots.

Paul Desbro of Hall Broome Gardens, Bolton Upon Dearne, Rotherham, was sentenced at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.

His sentencing followed an investigation carried out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) which began when an animal rescue officer attended a smallholding in Mexborough Road in May last year following reports of a collapsed sheep.

Animal rescue officer Liz Braidley said that, when she arrived at the paddock, she found two sheep looking skinny and underweight and a third ewe collapsed against the fence.

The ewe was emaciated, with her bones clearly visible. There were also large sections of her fleece missing and the skin underneath was red and sore and covered in scabs, the RSPCA said.

Her wounds were also swarmed with flies, fly eggs and maggots.

Desbro was sentenced to a 12-month community order to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay a £114 victim surcharge and £2,000 in costs.

He was disqualified from keeping livestock for ten years and cannot appeal this for a minimum of five years. A deprivation order was also made for the two living sheep and their lambs.

“She was trying to turn her head to groom herself and was clearly irritated by the flies around her which were relentlessly landing on her,” Braidley said.

“At this point, I knew I needed further assistance so I contacted my colleagues, the police and a vet.”


Braidley said she was then approached by a man claiming to be the friend of the sheep’s owner and explained that they were aware of her flystrike and had clipped some of her fleece.

However, Braidley said: “…when I asked if they had contacted a vet, the man said no and stated: ‘We will have to call the knacker man tomorrow’.”

Source: RSPCA

The RSPCA found the owner and the police seized three sheep but the ewe was put to sleep by a vet to end her suffering, the charity said.

RSPCA inspector, Jennie Ronksley, said: “This was a sad case involving the neglect of multiple sheep including an emaciated ewe who was so severely burdened with flystrike that her skin was absolutely crawling with maggots and clearly needed veterinary attention.”

Sentencing remarks referred to this as a “deeply concerning case” and called the photographs and video footage “disturbing”. 

In mitigation, the court heard that Desbro entered an early guilty plea, that he shared the responsibility of the livestock kept on the smallholding with two other friends and was not experienced in keeping sheep so was ignorant of their welfare needs rather than malicious.

He was described as giving “well-meaning but incompetent care”. He had no previous convictions.