Belper farmers left animals in pain and suffering, court hears

Cows were not protected from pain and suffering at Slades Farm, the court heard.
Cows were not protected from pain and suffering at Slades Farm, the court heard.

A brother and sister have been given suspended prison sentences for failing to protect cows from pain and suffering at their Belper farm.

Stephen Hitchcock, 35, and his 38-year-old sister, Susan Hitchcock, of Slades Farm, also failed to follow strict regulations on the disposal of dead livestock.

They were both given an eight-month jail term, suspended for two years, when they appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court, where they admitted various charges.

They were also ordered to pay the full costs of the hearing, amounting to £3,716.75 each.

The prosecution was brought by Derbyshire County Council’s trading standards team after a visit to the farm on Whitewells Lane in response to concerns raised by a member of the public.

The Hitchcocks pleaded guilty to tethering two cows on chains so short the animals could not behave normally, failing to protect a cow lying in pain in a field and leaving the carcasses of cattle and sheep to rot.

 In court, the Hitchcocks presented character references from professionals in the Derbyshire area who had traded with them and were shocked to find them being prosecuted.

However, District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said the evidence indicated the pair’s offences could not be classed as  isolated incidents.

Coun Carol Hart, of the council, said: “This is a particularly  distressing case, and I welcome the result from the court.

“It sends out a clear message that behaviour like this is never acceptable and will not be tolerated.”