WARNING - GRAPHIC IMAGERY: Sudbury man receives five-year ban from keeping animals after causing unnecessary suffering to rabbits, pigs and poultry
A Sudbury man, found guilty of severely neglecting his rabbits, pigs and poultry, has received a five-year ban from keeping farmed animals and a 15-month suspended prison sentence.
Matthew Lowe, 39, of Sudbury Road, Newton, was also fined £4,899 and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and a 25-day rehabilitation training course, when he appeared at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court last week.
Lowe had pleaded guilty to four separate charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal in Assington, having failed to get veterinary treatment for a seriously-injured rabbit, while three others had to be put down due to obvious illnesses that had gone unchecked.
He also admitted four further breaches of welfare regulations, relating to his keeping of rabbits, pigs and poultry at Newmans Green, Sudbury, and Nut Farm in The Street, Assington.
The court heard that when officials from Suffolk Trading Standards and the Animal and Plant Health Agency first inspected Lowe’s holdings, it was immediately apparent that the animals had been suffering unnecessarily for some time.
The rabbits exhibited signs of illness and did not have food or clean bedding, while the pigs and poultry had parasites and lacked food and adequate shelter.
Piglets were also found in an unsuitable rearing environment, and sows were deemed to be underweight, which resulted in a vet issuing an improving notice that Lowe ultimately failed to comply with.
The court was told that officers made further visits, but found their recommendations were not followed.
The eight charges, brought forward following an investigation by Suffolk Trading Standards, each carried a sentence of eight weeks imprisonment, for a total sentence of 64 weeks, which has been suspended for 18 months.
At the court hearing on Wednesday, magistrates told Lowe that, because of the prolonged suffering the animals endured, and his failure to understand their welfare requirements and to follow legal notices, his case was regarded in the highest category for sentencing.
Following the ruling, Cllr Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “It is deeply upsetting to hear cases where animals are kept in conditions like these.
“I am pleased to say that we are not presented with cases like this very often.
“However, as this instance shows, we will not tolerate such behaviour and will take the strongest possible measures to ensure rightful prosecution.”
Suffolk Trading Standards is currently working to rehome the animals owned by Lowe.
Anybody with concerns about livestock is asked to contact the Citizens Advice helpline on 03454 040506.
Clair Missen, senior officer for Suffolk Trading Standards, who led the case, said: “Situations like this are, fortunately, rare for us, when animals must be immediately put down.
“Vigilant checks and attending to the animals’ basic needs would have prevented any suffering.”
Anyone caring for animals can receive free confidential and practical support from the Farming Community Network, by telephoning 03000 111999.