Farmer fined after sheep found dying

RSPCA inspectors found sheep diseased and dying on a Suffolk farm, a court heard.Former sheep farmer John Nicholson is today £5,000 out of pocket after admitting eight counts of failing to provide proper care.

By Amanda Cresswell

RSPCA inspectors found sheep diseased and dying on a Suffolk farm, a court heard.

Former sheep farmer John Nicholson is today £5,000 out of pocket after admitting eight counts of failing to provide proper care.

South East Suffolk Magistrates Court heard some of the sheep from Nicholson's flock were malnourished and suffering from sheep scab caused by parasitic mites feeding on skin, and four had severe contagious foot rot. Some of the animals were in such a terrible condition the RSPCA was forced to destroy them.

RSPCA inspector Marc Niepold said the suffering could have been prevented if Nicholson had called in the help that was available.

He said the RSPCA spent up to 1,000 hours helping him with lambing last year and he could have come to them for advice.

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But Mr Niepold welcomed Nicholson's penalty as "a very sound and fair judgement" but was saddened by their prolonged suffering.

Sentencing Nicholson, District Judge Reed said: "Courts and members of the public take very seriously causing suffering to animals."

He also banned Nicholson from keeping sheep for five years.

Earlier prosecutor Paul Rodgers told how an inspector found sheep with their fleeces coming off their bodies when he called at Church Farm, School Lane in Hollesley early last year.

He also found the land, which was not owned by Nicholson, had very poor grazing for the number and was water-logged in places.

One sheep had become trapped in a wire fence while trying to escape seeking better grazing.

Defence Graham Parkin, said Nicholson regretted it and felt "very ashamed of how things happened."

The 34-year-old, who lives with his mother in Hogarth Circle, Kendal, Cumbria, had inherited a number of sheep. He had control of 3,500 sheep all over the country, including Suffolk, Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Essex.

At the time this was going in Foot and Mouth regulations were in force and the movement of sheep were restricted.

"He felt like a headless at the time," said Mr Parkin. "He did not have enough hours in the day." He added it was a long journey from Cumbria to down to Ipswich.

Other problems were getting on top of him and debt ridden Nicholson, now a self-employed forester, suffered a breakdown and marriage break-up.

District judge Reed acknowledged it was a difficult time for keeping animals, which was exasperated by the amount of sheep he had.

Nicholson was fined £250 for each of the eight charges and was ordered to pay £3,000 costs.

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