Former NFU county chairman sentenced for two animal welfare charges

The Westmorland Gazette: Former NFU county chairman Russell Bowman. Former NFU county chairman Russell Bowman.

A FORMER NFU county chairman has been sentenced to 120 hours community service after pleading guilty at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court today to two charges relating to animal welfare.

Russell William Bowman, of Castlerigg Farm, Armathwaite, pleaded guilty to one offence under the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 of transporting an animal in a way which caused, or was likely to cause injury or unnecessary suffering.

He also admitted a further charge of failing to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he was responsible were met under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

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The prosecution followed an investigation by Cumbria County Council Trading Standards and the defendant was ordered to pay the council’s costs of £5,460 and a victim surcharge of £60.

The court was told that on or around May 13 or 14 2013, Bowman caused an unfit 12-year-old dairy cow to be transported to an abattoir in Derbyshire, and that between January 15 and May 15 2013, Bowman had failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of the same animal were met.

The court heard that in May 2013, Bowman made arrangements for three cows to go to slaughter from his farm.

One of them was a 12-year-old old dairy animal that he knew had been suffering from an eye infection.

He had consulted his own vet in January and treatment had been provided.

In April he noted that it had not improved and treated it again himself without further consulting his vet, despite the vet making regular visits to his farm to provide treatment to other animals.

Bowman decided that the animal was not going to get better and that it should go to slaughter.

Although he did discuss its condition with those involved in the transport to its ultimate destination - 180 miles from his farm - he did not make them fully aware of the history and extent of the injury.

The court heard that on examination in the abattoir lairage, the Official Veterinarian noticed that a swelling around the cow’s left eye had burst.

Subsequent laboratory examination was unable to locate the eyeball and found evidence of long-standing infection, concluding that it was not fit to have been transported and had been caused unnecessary suffering.

Mike Smyth, Public Protection Manager for Cumbria Trading Standards Service, said: “The owner was fully aware that this cow had been suffering from a serious infection that had not improved with the inadequate treatment he had provided.

"He also knew that transporting it to the chosen destination would entail a long journey.

“The legislation is in place to ensure that animals receive appropriate care on farm and are fit for their intended journey when transported. It is disappointing that Mr Bowman clearly failed to meet his obligations on either count.”

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