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Workers avoid jail after pleading guilty to ‘sickening’ abuse on UK pig farm

The incidents happened at Fir Tree Farm, Lincolnshire, owned by Elsham Linc – one of Britain’s largest pig producers and certified by the Red Tractor assurance scheme.

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credit: Animal Equality UK
credit: Animal Equality UK
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Workers avoid jail after pleading guilty ‘sickening’ abuse on pig farm

Farmers have been warned about the potential whereabouts of three workers who avoided jail after admitting ‘deliberate and gratuitous’ attempts to harm pigs.

 

The sentencing at Grimbsy Magistrates Court (February 28) was slammed ‘wholly inadequate’ for the trio, who were filmed undercover by animal welfare charity Animal Equality UK kicking pigs in the face, jabbing them with pitchforks and slamming gates on their heads.

 

The incidents happened between April 2 and 27 2018 at Fir Tree Farm, Lincolnshire, owned by Elsham Linc – one of Britain’s largest pig producers and certified by the Red Tractor assurance scheme.


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The court heart how the main culprit – Troy Wagstaff, 30 – was the farms designated animal welfare manager.

 

Mr Wagstaff and stockman Gavin Hardy, 39, admitted causing unnecessary suffering through inflicting blunt force trauma and physical violence.

 

Mr Hardy and pig worker Artirs Grogprkevs, 32, also admitted unnecessary suffering through the inappropriate use of a pitchfork.

 

‘Lenient sentence’

An anonymous source said on social media: “Farmers in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, please watch out for these men and do not let them anywhere near your farm or animals.

 

“Michael Gove please look into this lenient sentence. It is farcical.”

 

The trial followed undercover investigations between April and May 2018 by Animal Equality UK after an anonymous tip-off.

Speaking from the trial, District judge Daniel Curtis said: “This was deliberate and gratuitous attempts to cause suffering. It was cruelty in a commercial setting.

 

“The acts that have been committed are appalling and sickening to watch, and for people who have worked in this industry, behaviour that they should properly be ashamed of.

 

“Animals should be treated with care, respect and humanity – whatever they may be – not in a degrading, gratuitously violent manner which appeared to be the culture that existed between you.”

 

RSPCA inspector Rebecca Harper added: “The footage is very hard to watch. All this abuse is accompanied by those inflicting the suffering swearing and joking about it. The attitude towards the animals is disgusting.

“At times Wagstaff, who was the supervisor and animal welfare officer at the farm, can be seen going into stalls for no apparent reason other than to attack the pigs.”

 

The men were handed an eight-week suspended prison sentence and a community order of 100 hours unpaid work. They were also forced to pay £500 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

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