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Jailed shepherd's appeal rejected

PUBLISHED: 15:29 01 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:48 03 March 2010

A SHEPHERD who left sheep to starve and suffer disease until they died has been sent to jail.

Edward Howard had hoped the six month prison term would be avoided by appealing against the sentence imposed by magistrates in March.

A SHEPHERD who left sheep to starve and suffer disease until they died has been sent to jail.

Edward Howard had hoped the six month prison term would be avoided by appealing against the sentence imposed by magistrates in March.

However, after watching an horrific video showing rotting carcasses and starving sheep in Howard's care, Judge Peter Thompson at Ipswich Crown Court dismissed the appeal.

He said: "We are shocked and appalled at the extent and degree of suffering of over 100 animals over a long period of time. One vet said this was the worst case he had seen in 38 years and we are not surprised. We have heard not one word from you that you had any feelings for the animals for which you were responsible."

Judge Thompson said the South East Suffolk magistrates were correct to send Howard to jail for six months, the maximum sentence for animal cruelty.

The court heard that 55-year-old Howard, of Churnwood Road, Colchester, initially denied 15 charges of failing to care for his flock and a further three of failing to dispose of the carcasses.

He eventually pleaded guilty to all 18 offences on the day he was due to stand trial in March.

Lynn Griffin, prosecuting, showed a video taken in February 2001 of a site at the former RAF Bentwaters air base where the sheep had been left to graze. Howard had a licence to keep 500 sheep at the site but around 750 had arrived from Yorkshire to graze for the winter.

The video showed dead animals, many decomposed beyond recognition. One sheep had been caught in razor wire and another trapped by its horn in a wire fence had been left unaided and starved to death. Others had suffered severe sheep scabies and foot rot. The majority suffered malnutrition.

Many of those which had not already died had to be put down by vets. Many others were culled on their way back to Yorkshire.

The court heard that six Yorkshire farmers had lost around £16,000 worth of sheep.

James Dixon, for Howard, said his client was being paid to let sheep graze on the land he rented. He said Howard, who was not an educated man, believed someone else was responsible for the welfare of the sheep.

Howard showed no emotion throughout the hearing or as he was led away from the dock.


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