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Suspended sentence for Biddulph Moor and Macclesfield farmers for animal cruelty

Suspended sentence, lifetime bans and fines for Staffordshire farmers for animal cruelty


Three farmers have been convicted for breaching animal welfare and cattle identification and movement rules.


Charles Gibson, 51, and Alison Bailey, 44, both from a farm on Hot Lane, Biddulph Moor pleaded guilty to multiple animal welfare offences at a hearing on 21 April 2023 at Cannock Magistrates court.


Wheelton Farms Ltd, represented by Director Martin Wheelton, 55 from Harbour Lane, Macclesfield, pleaded guilty to cattle identification and movement offences.


The farmers were prosecuted by Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Animal Health team.


In May 2020, welfare issues were found at a farm being run by Gibson and Bailey when livestock, including young calves, were found being kept in extremely poor conditions.  A number of dead animals were found in pens with live animals, pens where livestock were kept were not suitable and little food, water or dry lying was being provided to the animals.


With low value untagged calves found at the farm which had been given to Gibson,  Wheelton Farms Ltd were complicit in the failure to comply with the traceability requirements for bovine animals.

The case, one of the worse witnessed by the team, resulted in the animals being taken into the possession of the local authority at the time in a bid to prevent further suffering. 


At the sentencing at Telford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 17 October, Mr Gibson was given a 20-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.  He was also ordered to pay fines of £4,000, a victim surcharge of £128, and given a lifetime ban from keeping all animals.


Ms Bailey was given a community order with 80 hours unpaid work, ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £90. She was also given a lifetime ban from keeping all animals.  Wheelton Farms Ltd received fines totalling £32,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 in costs.


Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “Our animal health team work hard to make sure that livestock is looked after properly and there is the required traceability of animals.

“This is a particularly upsetting case involving a number of vulnerable, new-born animals where their basic needs for care and identification were not met.


“Thankfully, the vast majority of Staffordshire farmers and livestock owners take good care of their animals and follow the rules. However, on some occasions, we do see incidents where these standards are not met, as in this case.  We are pleased that the court has reached a successful conclusion, this case should send out a clear message that we will take action to ensure the welfare needs of animals are provided for and livestock identification and movement rules are adhered to.”


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