Two men appeared before Burnley Magistrates Court following a lengthy undercover investigation by Animal Aid which highlighted the actions of the slaughtermen.
Imdad Ali pleaded guilty to a range of animal welfare offences connected to the slaughter of sheep. He was sentenced to eight weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £200 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
Joseph Bell pleaded guilty to four charges relating to the improper handling of the sheep prior to slaughter. Bell was given a community order for 12 months with 120 hours' unpaid work and ordered to pay £150 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
According to the Animal Aid investigation, on three occasions a stockman was caught on camera deliberately picking sheep up by their fleeces and physically throwing the animals, in addition to roughly handling others. It also found that many of the sheep were not killed with a single clean cut but had their throats hacked at repeatedly and sheep were moved unlawfully before they had sufficient time to lose consciousness.
The undercover footage also highlighted a slaughterman warning his colleagues when the vet was approaching on multiple occasions which suggests that they were clearly aware that their behaviour was unacceptable.
At a separate hearing in July, the abattoir operator Dale Valley Rossendale Limited of Bradford pleaded guilty to eight offences under Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing Regulations for England and was fined £5,000 plus £2,000 costs.
An Animal Aid spokesperson expressed disappointment at the sentence handed down.
“While it is positive that this long-running case has finally concluded, we certainly do not feel that justice has been adequately served. These lenient sentences in no way reflect the gravity of the terrible suffering that was inflicted on gentle animals at the most vulnerable time of their short lives.
“It is important to emphasise that the shocking scenes we filmed at this slaughterhouse were by no means unique. We have filmed inside 15 slaughterhouses, and found lawbreaking in almost every case. Incidents filmed at other slaughterhouses include animals being beaten, kicked and even burnt with cigarettes. But even when the law is followed to the letter, slaughter can never be cruelty-free. Slaughterhouses are merciless places, where animals’ lives are brutally taken from them.”