Farmer fined for death of animals

A FARMER today described his agony at finding four of his calves dead on his Suffolk farm after exposing them to poisonous slug pellets.John Neville Driver, 60, was fined £7,000 for storing pesticides in an unlocked barn used to keep animals and causing unnecessary suffering to four of his calves.

A FARMER today described his agony at finding four of his calves dead on his Suffolk farm after exposing them to poisonous slug pellets.

John Neville Driver, 60, was fined £7,000 for storing pesticides in an unlocked barn used to keep animals and causing unnecessary suffering to four of his calves.

However he has not been banned from keeping animals.

Driver pleaded guilty to the offences in South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court on December 5 and was sentenced yesterday.

He said: “My animals are my family and I was totally and utterly devastated.

“If my animals could speak they would tell you they have always, until this mistake and accident had the best of care and attention.”

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After the case he added: “I feel like a total failure; my grandfather bought this farm after working as a shepherd, staying in a hut on his own for three months at a time looking after the lambs and he was born with only one hand.

“And he achieved so much with all that and me; being able bodied, I feel a failure.”

The RSPCA discovered the dead bodies of four young calves in a hut in Driver's yard at Memorial Farm, in Norwich Road, Mendlesham, after they were alerted by a neighbour.

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, which had been penned in with wood and mesh panels held together with string, were later found to have died as a result of ingesting the pellets, which had led to a loss of co-ordination, convulsions and finally respiratory failure.

Driver said it was only after a neighbour took him to his doctor that he realised he had become severely depressed and that his farm, which he has helped to run for 56 years, slowly began to deteriorate.

He said: “Gradually, bit by bit, without me realising it, I became extremely tired and started to stop working properly.

“When my depression was at its worst, I was capable of working physically on automatic pilot, but what I could not do was anything that needed mental involvement.”

Driver was ordered to pay £1,250 for the unnecessary suffering charge, £750 for the unsafe storing of pesticides and half of the £10,000 court costs.

Chairwoman of the bench, Bunty Hunt, said: “We have taken into account that you have no previous convictions and we have given you some credit for your guilty plea and we have taken into account all the good character witnesses.”

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