A CASH-strapped farming family has been fined more than £5,000 by a district judge following years of malpractice.
John, Richard and Linda Stables disposed of carcas-ses in an ‘unauthorised and dangerous fashion’ and failed to register livestock deaths, Barrow Magistrates’ Court was told. They pleaded guilty to 26 offences.
The court heard that an anonymous tip-off led Cumbria County Council’s trading standards officials to the family’s Greaves Farm at Field Broughton, near Cartmel.
There they found a bonfire made of cattle and sheep carcasses with rats’ footprints leading from the pyre.
District judge David Purcell heard how brothers John, 56, and Richard, 60, would leave animal carcasses to rot in their fields for days.
They also had passports for cattle no longer on the farm but no record of their deaths.
The court was told that failure to quickly and properly dispose of dead animals increased the risk of spreading disease and not recording deaths made it impossible for authorities to track the source of an outbreak.
In mitigation it was claimed the family’s crippling debts meant they could not afford to remove dead animals from their land as they owed the ‘knacker’ tens of thousands of pounds.
Richard, his wife Linda and brother John took over the farm from the brothers’ father in 2008, inheriting a further £15,000 debt.
The court heard both men had learning difficulties and needed an appropriate adult during questioning.
Richard, the eldest, was completely illiterate, which made it impossible for him to keep accurate records of livestock, the court heard.
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Serena Gowling, for Richard and Linda, said: “They both knew what they were doing was wrong but they thought it was the only way to deal with the situation.”
The court heard that after charges were brought, the Stables’ debts were wiped out when ‘the proverbial long-lost Australian uncle’ left them thousands of pounds in his will.
They have now paid all the debts, believed to have been in the region of £50,000.
The judge said: “I can’t stress the importance of the need to comply with rural rules. Foot-and-mouth is a recent memory, we know how important it is that something like that doesn’t happen again.
“You weren’t deliberately trying to deceive authorities and you are now complying with regulations.”
John and Linda Stables were fined £2,100 each and Richard was fined £1,500.