Pig farmer punished for cruelty

A PIG farmer has been told to carry out 240 hours of community service after welfare inspectors found three of his animals dead and three others seriously ill in deep slurry.

A PIG farmer has been told to carry out 240 hours of community service after welfare inspectors found six of his animals dead and dying in deep slurry.

Richard Read, 52, of Decoy Farm in Sedge Fen near Lakenheath, pleaded guilty to six counts of cruelty and one of neglect, sentencing magistrates at Bury St Edmunds heard yesterday.

Hayley Saunders, prosecuting for the RSPCA, described a scene in which six animals had been abandoned for period of “three weeks or possibly more”.

RSPCA officer David Podmore was called to Read's farm on March 15 where he was met by the defendant's wife who escorted him to some pigs, Miss Saunders told the court.

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After seeing a few animals, which were described as “lean” and of “reasonable condition”, Mr Podmore then saw a further barn and he went to investigate.

The door had been wedged shut with a pile of potatoes but inside this barn and another he found six pigs.

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Three pigs were so thin their hips, ribs and backbones showed and one of them was loosing its skin under its belly because of the squalid conditions.

Three other pigs were found already perished in the mud - one was found to have suffocated on slurry.

Miss Saunders, said: “There was no bedding and there was thick layer of slurry several inches deep all over the floor.

“There was a third pig further inside but it was difficult to tell it was a pig at all it was so buried in the slurry.”

When Mr Podmore met Read, who was responsible for the animals, the farmer said the animals had been suffering from pneumonia, which he said accounted for their poor condition.

Read said he had quarantined the six pigs but under questioning from the RSPCA he confirmed he had not considered calling a vet but had been treating the infection himself.

Kieron Dumphy, mitigating for Read, said: “This whole affair has affected Mr Read's family. At the first available opportunity he has pleaded guilty and given his full cooperation to the RSPCA.

Mr Dumphy added: “He is a man of good character who comes to court with a great shame and remorse of how those pigs were treated.

“He has grown up caring for animals and he has cared for pigs for most of his life. And he accepts full responsibility; he simply didn't have the presence of mind to call a vet.”

Mr Dumphy also submitted letters vouching for Read's good character as well as a letter from his GP showing that Read had suffered depression following the prosecution.

Magistrates ordered Read to pay just over £1,500 in costs to the RSPCA and in addition to his community service order he was banned from keeping pigs for life.

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