A sheep farmer in Co. Antrim has been banned from owning animals and fined in £546 (€645) for animal welfare offences.

The farmer was convicted at Ballymena Magistrates' Court on one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to four sheep.

Sarah Jane Watson, who is 23-years-old, from Ballynease Road, Portglenone, Ballymena, was also convicted on one charge of failing to ensure the needs of a sheep were met to the extent of good practice.

Watson was disqualified from owning, keeping or participating in keeping animals. This also includes being party to an arrangement, under which that person is entitled to control or influence the way in which animals are kept.

She is also banned from transporting and from arranging transport of animals. The disqualification from all these conditions is set to last for a total of seven years.

She was also fined £500 (€591) plus £31 (€37) court costs and £15 (€18) offender’s levy.

This case arose from a welfare complaint received by Coleraine Veterinary Office, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

A welfare inspection was carried out by Veterinary Service Enforcement Branch during which a Veterinary Officer had to attend and euthanize four sheep that were found to be suffering.

Landowner fined for damaging protected habitat

A landowner was fined £3,400 (€3,990) recently at Newry Magistrates’ Court for breaches of Environment Order legislation.

The Co. Armagh man, Derek Johnston of 82D Carrickastricken Road, Forkhill, was fined for damaging a protected habitat.

Northern Ireland Environment Agency officers inspected a site owned by Johnston on five different occasions between October 5, 2012, and July 15, 2014.

The site is located within the Slieve Gullion Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and the Slieve Gullion Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

On each occasion, unauthorised works were observed by the officers, which resulted in substantial damage to the protected habitat.

Burning, spraying and mechanical removal of vegetation caused the destruction of 12.5ha of priority Dry Heath habitat on land owned by Johnston.