Sudbury man convicted for causing unnecessary suffering to animals

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Smallholding owner, Matthew Lowe, has been successfully prosecuted for a total of eight offences for neglect to poultry, pigs and rabbits.

Smallholding owner, Matthew Lowe, has been successfully prosecuted for a total of eight offences for neglect to poultry, pigs and rabbits. Each offence carries a sentence of eight weeks imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

Lowe was found guilty under a number of animal welfare acts and regulations and must also attend 25 days rehabilitation act training, undertake 100 hours unpaid work and has been disqualified from keeping any farmed animal for five years. Full costs of £4,899 were also awarded.

The magistrates said that due to his failure to abide by notices, the prolonged suffering of his animals and failure to understand their welfare requirements, the case was regarded in the highest category for sentencing.

When representatives from Suffolk Trading Standards and the Animal and Plant Health Agency first visited Lowe’s property, following a report from the RSPCA, it was immediately clear that the animals had been suffering unnecessarily for some time.

The pigs and poultry present on the site were found with no food and inadequate shelter, and Lowe admitted to failing to obtain veterinary treatment for a rabbit which had suffered a serious injury. Three other rabbits had to be put down due to illnesses that would have been obvious had regular checks been completed.

The officers made further visits to check that their recommendations were being followed, however this was not the case.

Rabbits were found without food or clean bedding and exhibited signs of illness. Piglets were in an unsuitable rearing environment, sows were underweight, and both pigs and poultry had parasites present. This led to a vet issuing an improving notice, which Lowe failed to comply with. Lowe also failed to correctly register to keep pigs.

Clair Missen, the Suffolk Trading Standards Senior Officer 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.”

Councillor 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, and 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.”

Following the prosecution, Suffolk Trading Standards are now working with Lowe to arrange the safe rehoming of the animals which he owns.

If you have any concerns about livestock, you can report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on
03454 04 05 06.

There is free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone caring for animals, from the Farming Community Network who can be contacted on 03000 111999.