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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Cruelty case one of the worst ever

A Melbourne man has been jailed for seven months for cruelty to sheep in northern Victoria

April 29, 2014 3:00am

A Melbourne man has been jailed for seven months for cruelty to sheep in northern Victoria in a case DEPI staff described as one of the worst they had seen.

The sheep owner was jailed last week for seven months after pleading guilty to 11 consolidated counts of cruelty and aggravated cruelty to animals under his care at Kerang.

Handing down the sentence in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, Magistrate Peter Mealy also banned the man from owning livestock for 10 years, and ordered him to pay $40000 costs.

Mr Mealy said it was a sad case because of the pain the animals were put through for commercial profit.

DEPI compliance manager Stephanie Andreata welcomed the result and described it as a tribute to the tenacity of the the department’s investigators that they were able to mount a successful prosecution case.

‘‘The department will tirelessly pursue a conviction when it sees serious breaches of the law in relation to animal welfare,’’ Ms Andreata said.

‘‘We have no tolerance in particular for people who have prior convictions of animal cruelty and haven’t learnt from the penalties imposed.’’

The case began as a contested hearing in Kerang Magistrates’ Court before Mr Mealy on February 10, but after seven days of evidence the accused changed his plea to guilty.

After being told the accused was also pleading guilty to breaching two banning orders in NSW and Victoria, Mr Mealy ordered a psychiatric assessment and adjourned the matter to Melbourne Magistrates’ Court last Thursday for sentencing.

The 11 consolidated charges were made up of 175 separate offences committed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 in July 2012 at properties near Kerang.

They related to the management of about 2200 sheep in a farming enterprise that included an intensive lambing program in which hormones were administered to ewes with the intention of inducing two lambings a year instead of the usual one.

Between July 3 and July 13, DEPI animal health officers attending the two properties found more than 40 sheep that were either dead or in such a state of debilitation immediate euthanasia was required.

The accused pleaded guilty to aggravated cruelty in respect to these individual animals, admitting he failed to provide them with appropriate attention and husbandry, with the result being that each animal experienced unreasonable pain and suffering.

The accused also pleaded guilty to committing acts of cruelty upon animals in the flocks at each of the properties by failing to provide appropriate attention and husbandry, as well as driving a mob of 1000 sheep by land when they were in no condition to travel.

To report animal cruelty, contact a DEPI animal health officer or phone the customer service centre on 136186.

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