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Farmer faces jail for cruelty

PUBLISHED: 10:01 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:43 12 July 2010

GUILTY: Farmer David Fryatt

GUILTY: Farmer David Fryatt

A Norfolk farmer who left his cattle to die in the mud was yesterday warned he faced a prison sentence.

David Fryatt, 65, was found guilty of a string of cruelty charges and obstructing officials at the end of a three-day trial at King's Lynn Magistrates' Court.

A Tivetshall farmer who left his cattle to die in the mud has been warned he faced a prison sentence.

David Fryatt, 65, was found guilty of a string of cruelty charges and obstructing officials at the end of a three-day trial at King's Lynn Magistrates' Court.

District judge Tim Daber told him: “I give you warning that you can expect a prison sentence for these charges that you have been found guilty of.

“It was so serious and represented such a long catalogue of negligence, I have to be considering a custodial sentence.”

At the opening of the case on Monday, a Defra vet told the court that conditions at Fryatt's Pear Tree Farm, at Tivetshall St Mary, were the worst he had seen in his 28-year career.

Fryatt denied eight charges of causing unnecessary suffering, two of obstructing trading standards officers, two of failing to ensure appropriate animal care, and one of failing to adhere to carcass disposal regulations.

Defending himself in court on Wednesday last week, Fryatt said restrictions on animal movement during the epidemics meant he had been unable to sell some of his cows, while a delay in receiving payments from Defra had left him unable to afford magnesium blocks to treat the animals or to pay a vet.

“If I'd received Defra money, we wouldn't be here today,” he said. “In my opinion, the cattle wouldn't have had magnesium problems and there would have been very few deaths.

“There's no welfare cruelty issue here. I've done the best I can. My neighbours will tell you I work day and night, I've had cancer and diabetes and I've not always been fit.

“I do not consider the cattle got stuck in the mud, there was no reason for them not to get up. I'd done my best to save the cattle who were down.”

In respect of the charge of failing to adhere to carcass disposal regulations, Fryatt said he had been unable to clear the dead cows from the mud as it required heavy machinery, which he could not afford.

When officials searched the property in April, they found dying animals in a quagmire strewn with the carcasses of at least 14 cattle, the court was told.

Trading standards officers transported 14 surviving cattle from the yard and a further 38 from the neighbouring field in Mill Road.

Reports read out in court said the animals had suffered for several months and had not been fed a proper diet.

The judge said: “There's no suggestion Mr Fryatt deliberately inflicted harm on these animals, but the animal husbandry was woefully inadequate.”

Fryatt, who will be sentenced on November 4, was also warned he faced being banned from keeping animals.

After the case, David Collinson, head of Norfolk County Council trading standards, said: “This is one of the worst cases of animal welfare that Norfolk County Council trading standards has investigated.

“This verdict sends out the clear message that animal cruelty and neglect will not be tolerated, and reflects the hard work and perseverance of trading standards farm team officers, who have worked in very difficult conditions to ensure the safety and welfare of these animals.”

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