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Pembroke Dock livestock owner convicted of animal welfare offences

ANIMALS experienced ‘a large amount of suffering over a period of time’ according to District Judge Chris James at the prosecution of Richard Scarfe at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on 26 January by Pembrokeshire County Council.

Scarfe, of Park Street, Pembroke Dock, pleaded guilty to offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 by causing unnecessary suffering to animals at Highland View Fold, The Ridgeway, Lamphey, and failing them in his duty of care.

There were additional guilty pleas in relation to Cattle, Sheep, and Pig Identification and Animal By-Products offences and obstructing authorised officers whilst carrying out their duty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Mr Scarfe was disqualified from keeping cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and donkeys for a total of five years. In addition, he was given a community service order of 240 hours and a 14-week custodial sentence, suspended for 2 years. Costs were awarded to Pembrokeshire County Council.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Animal Health and Welfare team began investigating complaints on land at Highland View Fold in late 2019, offering Scarfe advice on animal husbandry and record keeping.

When officers visited the holding on the Ridgeway at Lamphey, they were shocked and appalled at the conditions of the fields and the accommodation for the animals.

The land was heavily poached and the grazing poor due to overstocking. During their visits officers noted that stock were without drinking water and feed and that bedding was heavily soiled leaving the animals with no clean dry lying area.

A vet who attended the land raised serious concerns over the poor body condition of the animals and condition scored the livestock from 1 to 2.5. Body conditions are scored from 1 (emaciated) to 5 (obese.)

On several occasions, animal carcasses were seen in varying stages of decomposition in fields where other livestock could access them.

In early 2021 following these serious failings under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, Animal By-Products Regulations, and other animal identification non compliances on the holding, the County Council’s Animal Health and Welfare team sought an order under the act to seize and remove livestock from the holding to prevent further suffering.

Scarfe had been given guidance and support by Pembrokeshire County Council Animal Health team along with professional veterinary advice, to which he had total disregard.

Summing up, District Judge Chris James said:

“There was high culpability of prolonged neglect motivated by Mr Scarfe. The care provided had been wholly neglectful with levels of incompetence.

“The multiple numbers of animals in this case seen graphically by photographs are serious. Greater harm has been met and as a result, a number of animals have died. There has been a large amount of suffering over a period of time.

“You were given numerous opportunities to address these issues and failed to comply fully. Only when court enforcement began, you began to take this seriously.

“The fact that you thought you did your best is not enough. You have not followed advice when you have been under scrutiny.”

Cllr Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Welsh Language, said:

“This was a deeply distressing case. Despite being given guidance and support by our Animal Welfare team, Mr Scarfe demonstrated a complete lack of care towards the animals in his ownership.

He added: “We will always strive to work with livestock owners when we are notified of concerns, but we will always prosecute in cases of neglect.

“We are satisfied with the judge’s decision.”

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