Farmer admits causing harm to calves

A THIRD generation farmer who has been looking after animals for 56 years today faces losing his livelihood after four calves were found poisoned on his farm.

A THIRD generation farmer who has been looking after animals for 56 years today faces losing his livelihood after four calves were found poisoned on his farm.

Neville Driver, 60, pleaded guilty in South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court to causing unnecessary harm to the animals after failing to protect them from a dangerous pesticide and storing the poison, designed to kill slugs, in an unlocked building used to keep the animals.

Stephen Climie, prosecuting, told the court how a tenant of Driver, who owns Memorial Farm, in Norwich Road, Mendlesham, had seen a calf in distress thrashing around outside her cottage.

He said: “The tenant alerted Mr Driver who said it looked like the calf had been poisoned and he then pulled the calf into the yard, which was described by my witness as kicking, groaning and foaming at the mouth and ten minutes later he said he was going to put the calf out of his misery.

“Shortly afterwards she heard a banging noise coming from the yard and she called the RSPCA.”

The court heard how Driver had hit the calf with a sledgehammer, fracturing its skull.

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The RSPCA later found the body of the six-month-old black calf under tarpaulin in the yard with blood coming out of his mouth and they also discovered three other calf carcasses in a neighbouring hut in the yard.

The calves were being kept in a dilapidated barn where Driver had also stored harmful slug pellets, plastic bags, rubbish, car batteries and tyres.

The calves had been penned in with wood and mesh panels held together with string.

When the carcasses were later examined they were found to have plastic bags and twine in their stomachs and had died as a result of ingesting slug pellets which had caused them to lose their co-ordination, have convulsions and finally, respiratory failure.

Nigel Weller, defending, told the court how Driver had become a broken man after his wife of 42 years left him, taking their two children with her.

Mr Weller said: “His wife managed all the paper work and the financial side of the business so in a way she was his rock.”

Mr Weller told the court how things began to fall apart after the separation, with Driver being diagnosed with clinical depression and receiving psychiatric help from his doctor.

Mr Weller said: “This is a case far removed from cruelty; it's an oversight, a mistake in 56 years of successful farming.”

The case has been adjourned until January 2 for pre-sentence reports.

Have you been a witness to cruelty to animals? What do you think?

Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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