A FARMER has been spared jail after the remains of 23 dead sheep – including two skeletons – were discovered by inspectors
Animal welfare officers found six of the carcasses in a field in Stone and 17 in Uttoxeter.
The sheep were revealed to have belonged to illiterate farmer Jonathan Daley, who was yesterday handed a 90-day prison sentence – suspended for one year – after he admitted a series of charges linked to his care of the livestock.
The 40-year-old, who can't read or write, insisted to magistrates in Stafford that he did care for his sheep properly.
But he claimed he couldn't always find them because he worked long hours in his second job as a long distance lorry driver and was unable to tend to his animals until after dark. Daley, of Wardle Crescent, Leek, first came to the attention of the authorities after a dead sheep belonging to him was found lying in a road near a field in Stone.
Prosecutor Khalid Mahmood told the court: "An animal welfare officer attended and to the rear of a field she found dead sheep.
"There was broken and dangerous barbed wire. The officer walked around the field and found a further dead sheep and two skeletons. The officer then found various sheep parts on the field.
"The officer found a male sheep stuck in mud by a wall. It took 20-minutes to free it, after which it could not stand. Daley refused to pay for a vet and said he would have the sheep shot, which he did."
Two days later, the same officer found the remains of 17 sheep and a cow in a trailer in Uttoxeter.
Mr Mahmood added: "When the officer opened the rear of the trailer rats jumped out and the smell was overpowering."
Daley admitted one charge of failing to inspect animals under his protection, two charges of failing to dispose properly of animal carcasses, and two charges of failing to record animal movements.
Glenn Cook, mitigating, said Daley had got into financial difficulties following a divorce and was working more than 60-hours a week as a lorry driver.
Mr Cook said: "He was attending his field in hours of darkness. He accepts, on reflection, that was not acceptable.
"He has not deliberately caused suffering, it is through his neglect and he apologises for that."
Daley was also made subject to a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work, ordered to pay costs of £1,578 and a £60 victim surcharge.
Chief magistrate Robert Evans told him: "The photographs were horrific. Even you, seeing death on a daily basis, must have been horrified by what you saw."