Slaughtermen jailed for animal cruelty offences

Two former slaughtermen, accused of “gratuitous” cruelty to pigs, have been jailed for animal cruelty offences.

Piotr Wasiuta and Kelly Smith, who were previously employed by Cheale Meats in Essex, were jailed for six and four months respectively after pleading guilty to animal cruelty charges at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Their prison terms were reduced from nine and seven weeks, respectively, because they had pleaded guilty to the charges.

The pair were arrested after Animal Aid released undercover footage allegedly filmed at the abattoir in March and April 2011. The videos, which were played in court, appeared to show Wasiuta stubbing cigarettes out on the faces of pigs and Smith beating pigs with excessive force with a baton. One pig was hit as many as 30 times in a minute.

Animal Aid welcomed the news that the pair had been jailed. Head of campaigns Kate Fowler said: “We are satisfied that Wasiuta and Smith have now been brought to justice. Their acts of cruelty were inexcusable and caused untold suffering to animals that were already scared and vulnerable. However, many other slaughterhouse workers, who also caused serious and deliberate suffering to animals, have escaped justice because this government refused to act. We are now calling on the Food Standards Agency to look again at two other cases to see whether charges may be brought under the Animal Welfare Act.

“Our detailed investigations have found illegality in eight of the nine slaughterhouses we visited, despite government-appointed vets being present in all of them. The current regulatory system does not work. It does not catch those who abuse animals. But this case proves that properly placed and independently-monitored cameras do work, and we renew our call for Defra to make CCTV mandatory to catch those who abuse animals and to act as a disincentive to those who might consider it.”

Adam Cheale, general manager of Cheale Meats, said: “The directors of Elmkirk support the action taken against the offenders through the courts and fully support the courts in their decision regarding sentencing.”

It originally looked unlikely that the men would be prosecuted because Defra — the department responsible for prosecution — had a policy not to rely on evidence provided by a third party that it could not obtain under its own statutory rights. However, late last year Defra’s prosecution powers were transferred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which decided that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute.