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Two Powys councillors admit string of animal health offences

Mid Wales | News | Published:

Two Powys county councillors have admitted a string of animal health offences in court – with one leaving nine sheep carcasses on his land for at least two weeks.

Councillor Aled Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservative group on Powys County County Council and chairman of the audit committee, admitted six offences at Llandrindod Wells Magistrates Court yesterday.

Davies, 53, of Glanogeu, Rhiwlas, Llansilin, and county councillor for Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and Llansilin, already had a caution for similar offences.

Fellow Conservative councillor Robert Gwynfor Thomas, 49, of Ponty Pentre Farm, Llansantffraid, admitted nine charges and asked for 153 other offences to be taken into account.

Representing the Llansantffraid ward, he is the chairman of the place committee and is on the finance scrutiny panel and the audit committee.

Prosecuting, Mr Rob Brown for Powys County Council, said that in December 2014, following an anonymous complaint, animal health officers from the county council visited Davies' farm to investigate.

He was unable to produce certain records relating to the disposal of fallen animals and so arrangements were made for a return visit, when records on animal movements, births and deaths were taken as well as records relating to the disposal of cattle.

A further complaint was received saying there were sheep carcasses on the land and his sheep were in poor condition.

Officers attended again with a vet and found nine sheep carcasses on one area of land. The officers said they had been there for at least two weeks.

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Interviewed in May, Davies could give no reasonable excuse for his failings and he said it was not a priority.

Mr Huw Williams, for Davies, said his client is a family man with four children was the principal person in charge of a 257-acre farm.

Davies said he was "busy" and it was "laziness" which stopped him from registering the death of another cow.

Mr Williams said the sheep carcasses found on Davies' land had been covered by snow drifts and could not be seen until the snow cleared. Davies refuted they had been there for at least two weeks.

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He was fined £800 for the first offence with no separate penalty for the remaining matters. He was ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge, £180 court charge and £1,500 costs.

Chairman of the magistrates, Mr Richard Dawe, said: "These are serious matters and you cannot keep on behaving like this. Your solicitor's mitigation uses words like laziness - it is not acceptable.

"You need to get your house in order. Hopefully this fairly hefty sign will reinforce that."

Meanwhile, Thomas admitted two charges of failing to supply an up to date register of cattle in 2014, two charges of failing to notify the authorities of the birth, movement or death of cattle in 2013, applying an ear tag to an animal previously used for a different animal in 2010, two charges of failing to keep a register of births, deaths and movements of animals, and two Cattle Identification (Wales) Regulations.

Mr Brown said Thomas had systematically failed to maintain animal movement, birth and death records and to make the required notifications on cattle at his farm.

Mr Brown said in August 2014, 147 cattle were presented for routine Bovine TB testing and Thomas was unable to account for 77 missing cows. Animal health officers wanted to inspect his records, but Thomas said they were in a mess and he was given time to sort them out.

At the next visit, Thomas admitted there were major issues at the farm due to him "sticking his head in the sand".

He was unable to give details of what had happened to 84 cattle no longer at the holding and said some had been missing for years.

It emerged that he had failed on 72 occasions to account for the movement and whereabouts of cattle, on 27 occasions to tell the authorities of the death of animals, on 16 occasions to make a record of movements on to or off the holding, on 19 occasions he failed to record the death of cattle on the farm, on two occasions he had put an ear tag on an animal which had been used previously to identify another animal and on 27 occasions he failed to tell the authorities of cattle movements.

Magistrates adjourned his case for an all-options pre-sentence report to be carried out.

He will appear for sentencing at Welshpool Magistrates Court on Tuesday, October 20.

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