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Monday, 24 November 2014

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North Cumbrian farmer broke mad cow disease regulations

A judge wants to see evidence of a farmer’s finances before deciding how much he should be fined for flouting regulations designed to prevent beef infected with mad cow disease getting into the human food chain.

At Carlisle Crown Court, David Holmes, 52, who kept cattle at four locations – including Crook Farm at Roadhead, north of Carlisle – pleaded guilty to 30 offences.

The court heard how he repeatedly failed to notify the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) that he was moving cattle between different locations.

Some of the cattle – including some older animals banned from sale because of the risk from BSE – disappeared without trace.

The offences included failing to keep a proper register of his herds, using an ear tag on a cow that previously identified another animal, and furnishing misleading information about cattle to the authorities.

Judge Peter Davies said he wanted to see evidence of Holmes’ financial affairs before deciding on the level of fine and court costs.

He said: “This is a continuous pattern between 2009 and 2011 of deliberately deceiving the authorities to ensure that cattle of either no or little monetary value could not be traced.”

He added that he would not, however, impose a custodial sentence for the offences, noting that there was no evidence of actual harm to humans.

Holmes has previous convictions dating back to the 1980s, which include a number of animal cruelty offences.

Prosecutor Howard Shaw told the court that Holmes, now living at Nutholm Farm, Lockerbie, had breached regulations which were brought in following an outbreak of BSE – so called mad cow disease.

The intention was to ensure that all cattle born before 1996 – which have little monetary value – at no point enter the human food chain.

The first three offences he admitted related to three animals – one born before 1996 – moved from Crook Farm.

Mr Shaw said: “They have quite simply disappeared.”

Andrew Scott, for Holmes, said the company run by Holmes – D&A Livestock Limited – no longer existed.

He will be sentenced at the crown court in Carlisle on January 25.

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