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Cattle found on the farm

Jail sentence for farmer who left lambs to die in freezing conditions

A Uttoxeter farmer who left livestock to die in a frozen field has been given a 16-week jail sentence suspended for 12-months.

Stephen Croxall, 50, from Kingstone, near Uttoxeter pleaded guilty to breaching the animal welfare act. Charges ranged from causing unnecessary suffering to animals to failing to record the administration of medicines.

When animal health officers from Staffordshire County Council visited the farm on 31 December 2018, they found the animals in terrible condition, starving and freezing to death. One lamb was hypothermic, and another dead under a fallen gate. A young calf was also found very vocal and thin, indicating it had not been fed or watered. Several other animals had to be put down.

The 50-year-old told the court he was tired from his full-time job as a wood cutter and that vets were too expensive.

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council said:

“This is one of the saddest cases of animal neglect our team have had to deal with in a long time.

“People who keep any kind of animal have a duty to ensure they are well cared for and kept free from harm, but Mr Croxall fell very short of this. The sheep, lambs and cattle were kept in a truly shocking state.”

The court was told: “It was -3C at 11am. The land was described as white and frozen.

“There were sheep and cattle, with some sheds and caravans in the corner. Officers saw 20 bales of silage which were black and mouldy.

“When the officers entered the field, the animals were hungry as they were running towards the officers for food.

“There were buckets of water but these were frozen. The grass was frozen and there was no hay or straw.

“A wall of metal in the shed had been broken and sharp edges were sticking into the shed.

“There was also an emaciated calf which must have been there for days. Officers could see its spine.”

Gill added:

“Our trading standards animal health officers work closely with businesses and livestock owners to make them aware of their responsibilities and relevant legislation. Thankfully, the vast majority are responsible and play an important part in Staffordshire’s economy. However, where there is neglect, they will take prompt action like in this case.”

The offences happened in Croxall’s field, in Blithbury Road, Hamstall Ridware, Rugeley.

Mr Croxall was given the sentence on Monday 23 September 2019 at Newcastle Magistrates court. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and given a lifetime ban on keeping animals.