Cattle dealer jailed for putting national herd at risk
January 16, 2015
A cattle dealer who repeatedly ignored disease control regulations has been jailed for four months, following a prosecution brought by Cheshire East Council.
Anthony Ronald Kirkham, from Ridley Farm, Tarporley, re-offended just three days after receiving a suspended sentence for similar breaches in May 2013. The court was told he had shown a ‘wilful disregard of a court order’ and had risked the health of the national herd .
Recorder Judge Michael Blakey said Kirkham’s offences were so serious an immediate custodial sentence was the only option. He had risked the spread of deadly diseases in cattle which could have caused destruction and financial loss.
The judge imposed a three-month prison sentence for the latest offences and a further one month of a suspended sentence passed in 2013.
In November, Kirkham, 70, pleaded guilty at South Cheshire Magistrates’ Court to 11 counts of breaching TB and Disease Control Orders.
The court was told that the defendant’s actions risked spreading TB in the national herd and incurring costs for the taxpayer.
The Council’s animal health and welfare team carried out routine checks and discovered that Kirkham had moved cattle within a matter of days of buying them at markets in Chelford, Cheshire and Shropshire, breaching strict controls brought into force after the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 and the long-standing controls applying to bovine TB.
Some of the breaches occurred within days of his court appearance in May 2013 for similar offences.He refused to attend an interview with the Council’s animal health officials to explain his actions.The court heard that he was a cattle dealer who, by his own account, bought and sold up to 10,000 animals a year.
In some instances, cattle had been bought and sold on by Kirkham even though they had not been TB tested and should have therefore gone only to slaughter or to a DEFRA or government approved unit.
The court was told that Kirkham had a history of serious offences dating back to 1987. He had a catalogue of animal health convictions dating back to May 2003, including three prosecutions for breaching foot and mouth restrictions in November 2003, when he was fined £13,500.
In January 2011, he was convicted of 87 offences involving breaches of the Tuberculosis Order 2007 and asked for 102 further offences to be taken into consideration, for which he was fined £5,742. In 2013, he was convicted on eight counts under the Tuberculosis Order 2007 and received a four-month suspended prison sentence imposed.
Kirkham appeared before Stafford Magistrates in December of last year for failing to produce movement records and was conditionally discharged.
Over many years of dealing in cattle, he has received more than £20,000 in fines for breaking strict movement orders and been ordered to pay more than £24,000 in costs.
Councillor Les Gilbert, Cabinet member for localism and enforcement said: “This is a shocking case and our enforcement team is to be congratulated and thanked for the hard work they have put in to make sure this man is rightly punished.
“The 2001 foot and mouth outbreak cost the country some £8billion and saw the slaughter of 10 million sheep and cattle. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has reported bovine TB cost farmers tens of millions of pounds and taxpayers nearly £1m.
“This man has shown total disregard for animal welfare regulations and in doing so he has not only put the health of the national herd at risk but has also shown a complete disregard for the livelihood of other farmers in Cheshire who are struggling with the impact of bovine TB, some having had large parts of their herd destroyed.
“The risk caused to other farmers and animals by the irresponsible actions of this man is totally unacceptable.
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