Video: Suffolk farmer banned from keeping livestock after animal welfare convictions

Eric Moss at his farm in Farnham

Eric Moss at his farm in Farnham - Credit: Archant

A 73-year-old Essex farming company owner has been given a suspended jail term and banned from keeping farm animals after being convicted of more than 20 offences including animal cruelty.

Cattle standing in a rain-soaked field at Eric Moss' farm

Cattle standing in a rain-soaked field at Eric Moss' farm - Credit: Archant

Eric Moss, of Botany Farm, Farnham, near Saxmundham, and his company ARP Farms, of Sible Hedingham, Essex, were found guilty of 23 out of 29 charges after a trial at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court.

The case was brought by Suffolk Trading Standards Department and was Moss’s third conviction in four years for offences relating to his livestock.

Moss and his company had denied all the charges which included allegations of causing unnecessary suffering to animals, failing in the duty of a person responsible for animal welfare, and contravening regulations.

The charges arose from four visits made by trading standards officers to Moss’s farm between February and May 2013.

One of the cattle at Eric Moss' farm

One of the cattle at Eric Moss' farm - Credit: Archant

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In addition to Moss being given a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, District Judge Celia Dawson also made a disqualification order for an indefinite period prohibiting Moss and his farm from keeping farm animals for commercial purposes. Sentencing Moss, Judge Dawson told him: “I don’t think you are capable of dealing with the complex demands of modern farming and, in particular, capable of putting your animals first.”

Earlier in the hearing while reading out her judgment on each of the charges the judge said that during Moss’s trial she had not found him to be a “convincing or believable witness”.

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In mitigation Marcus Croskell, representing Moss, told the court his client no longer keeps farm animals because of his age. The former farmer also has health issues which included having suffered a stroke.

Mr Croskell said: “His farming life essentially has come to an end. All the cattle have been disposed of as a result of trading standards visiting his property.”

The cattle at Eric Moss' farm

The cattle at Eric Moss' farm - Credit: Archant

It was said by 2014 all Moss’s stock had been sold.

Mr Croskell added the offences reflected a deterioration in Moss’s capacity to manage a farm with so many animals on it.

“Whether he accepts it or not his capacity appears to have diminished along with his judgment.”

The court had heard animals on the farm were malnourished, lacked appropriate shelter in adverse weather conditions, were not given access to well-drained areas or a wholesome diet and were not given adequate care or veterinary advice without delay.

Moss and ARP were convicted of five counts each of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. Moss was found guilty of three charges of failing to ensure the needs of his animals were met, while ARP was convicted of two of those offences.

Moss was also found guilty of eight offences of failing to comply with a regulatory duty.

He and his company were each acquitted of two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to cattle and another allegation involving two calves being undernourished.

Moss and ARP were ordered to pay a total of £9,000 towards prosecution costs.

Moss was convicted in 2011 of failing to comply with the requirements of registering cattle and illegally selling meat.

Last year he was convicted of failing to tag animals correctly and dispose of their carcasses properly.

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