Haulier fined over rotten carcasses

By James MortlockA HAULIER has been fined £6,000 after rotting chickens fell from “lethal” loads of animal waste, putting public health in danger.Trading standards offciers welcomed the “robust” way the offences, which happened in and around Woolpit, were handled.

By James Mortlock

A HAULIER has been fined £6,000 after rotting chickens fell from “lethal” loads of animal waste, putting public health in danger.

Trading standards offciers welcomed the “robust” way the offences, which happened in and around Woolpit, were handled.

They stressed the recent foot-and-mouth and swine fever epidemics were linked to the similar incorrect disposal of animal remains.

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One of the loads of putrefying and decomposing poultry - which could spread fatal strains of food poisoning, particularly among the very young and very old - was being transported to the farm owned by John Clarke, renowned for the notorious Woolpit Whiff.

As driver Stuart Keane turned a sharp corner in the centre of the village, about 20 carcasses - which were described as blue and stinking by witnesses - fell into the road.

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Just days later the same driver lost part of a similar load on the nearby Beyton slip road off the A14.

Haulier John Mitchell, 45, of London Road, Rounds, Wellingborough, who runs Northamptonshire-based JA Transport with his wife Joy, 44, was fined £6,000.

His wife, of the same address, was also fined £500. Mitchell will also pay £1,040 towards the costs of the Suffolk County Council prosecution.

Keane, 31, of Great Park Street, Wellingborough, was fined £500 and ordered to pay £520 in costs. All three had admitted two offences under the Animal Health Act 1981.

Fining them, St Edmundsbury magistrate Graham Higgins said: “These were lethal cargoes in health terms.

“What was particularly concerning was that the lessons of the incident on July 12 last year did not appear to have been learned as 18 days later there was the second offence.

“The matters are of a serious nature and in making our decision we had in mind the maximum level of fines possible.

“We have given consideration to means, the early guilty pleas and the co-operation given after the offences came to the attention of the authorities.”

After the case, Reg Ruffles, principal trading standards officer with the county council, said he was delighted with the level of fines.

“We are extremely pleased at the robustness with which the magistrates have viewed the matter - particularly their description of the loads being lethal cargoes,” he added.

“There are local and national issues here. Locally, there was a dreadful mess and there was the threat of spreading problems like salmonella.

“Nationally, the recent outbreaks of foot and mouth and swine fever have been linked to the incorrect disposal of animal by-products.”

Barbara Lisgarten, prosecuting, told the court yesterday the stench of the carcasses left on the street in the first incident had left people in Woolpit gasping for breath.

“There were 20 badly decomposed and putrefied birds. One witness said they were almost blue and were covered in slime,” she said.

“The witness attempted to take digital pictures, but said the smell was so bad she was forced to leave the site. Another said the smell took his breath away.

“He said there was no getting away from it. He was working on a building site nearby, but had to leave the job for the day because of the overpowering smell.”

Ms Lisgarten added the problem had been made worse by the fact the spill had been on a village road and cars travelled over it and pedestrians - possibly mothers with prams - were forced to pass through the remains.

She said the second incident, on July 30 last year, was reported by a driver who had seen the carcasses come off the lorry as it pulled away from a junction off the A14.

Martin Thorby, who was called in to clear up the mess, said no amount of disinfectant could get rid of the stench.

Farrah Mauladad, mitigating, said both loads had been covered, but there had been gaps which breached the guidelines on transportation of animal by-products.

She added new trailers were now being brought into use by the firm to ensure the problem did not happen again.

Miss Mauladad said the haulage firm had paid more than £1,000 to Mid Suffolk District Council for the clear-up costs of both incidents.


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