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Wiltshire smallholders banned from keeping cattle

Wiltshire Council has successfully prosecuted two smallholders following mistreatment of cattle.

Published 21 July 2022

Wiltshire Council has successfully prosecuted two smallholders following mistreatment of cattle.

As a result, Mr Nicholas Shearmon (55) and Mrs Diane Shearmon (41) of Rusty Lane, Seend have been banned from keeping, owning, dealing in or transporting cattle for 10 years. They were also ordered to pay £8,000 costs, a victim surcharge of £190 and must complete 100 hours of unpaid community work.

On 19 November 2019, officers from Wiltshire Council's Animal Health Team and vets from APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) visited the smallholding.

They discovered three of the 12 cows had died, and many of the remaining cows were weak and in poor body condition. One weakened cow became stuck in a muddy pool and had to be freed by Mr Shearmon.

The court heard that on another visit on 27 November 2019, an animal health officer instructed Mr and Mrs Shearmon to call a vet within 48 hours to a cow which appeared to have laboured breathing. A vet was not called and an officer from the Animal Health Team subsequently attended the holding. The cow was found in a collapsed state and required urgent veterinary attention. This animal was eventually euthanised by Mr and Mrs Shearmon's private vet.

Mr and Mrs Shearmon both appeared at Swindon Magistrates Court on 18 July and pleaded guilty to the following charges:

  • Causing unnecessary suffering to three cows, which at post mortem were found to be chronically malnourished and having a lungworm infection
  • Causing unnecessary suffering by failing to seek veterinary attention for a cow which was anaemic, dehydrated and extremely thin
  • Failing to isolate ill or injured animals in appropriate accommodation
  • Failing to care appropriately for a cow which appeared ill or injured by failing to seek veterinary advice
  • Failing to protect nine cows from risks to their health by preventing access to a muddy bog/pond containing debris
  • Failing to report the movement of four cattle
  • Failing to hold three carcases in such a manner that no animal or bird had access to them

The District Judge said ultimately these were serious offences but did take into account Mr and Mrs Shearmon's guilty pleas.

Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling, Cabinet Member for Public Protection said: "The vast majority of Wiltshire's farmers and livestock owners take good care of their animals.

"On the rare occasion when this isn't the case our hard-working and dedicated animal health officers won't hesitate to act decisively when called upon.

"We're pleased with the court's decision and hope it sends a strong message that causing unnecessary suffering to animals will not be tolerated in Wiltshire."

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