Harling Farm worker jailed for animal cruelty

A former stockman has been jailed after admitting beating and throwing pigs in what the judge described as “one of the worst cases of animal cruelty I have seen”.

Geoffrey Towell, who worked on Harling Farm in Norfolk, was jailed yesterday after pleading guilty to five counts of cruelty to pigs and piglets and one charge of failing to protect pigs from pain and suffering at an earlier hearing at Norwich Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard that undercover footage filmed at the farm by animal welfare group Animal Equality had shown Towell launch a “sustained and violent assault” on four sows, which he hit with a plastic pipe 59 times. He was also filmed killing pigs by hitting them on the head with a metal bar, using unecessary force to handle piglets and lifting pigs by the ears and dropping them from waist height.

He was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison and banned from the keeping, managing, husbandry, care or control of farm animals for 10 years.

Another former Harling Farm employee, James Dove, was given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of cruelty and two counts of failing to protect pigs from suffering. He admitted kicking and hitting sows with a plastic pipe and throwing pigs over a barrier, as well as lifting pigs by the ear and leg and dropping them.

He was given an eight-week jail sentance, suspended for a year, and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.

A third farm worker was let off with a caution from the RSPCA.

The RSPCA’s farm animal welfare officer, chief inspector Mark Thompson said: “The cruelty meted out by these two men was sickening. They showed absolutely no respect or compassion for the pigs in their care and instead treated them with hostility, violence and aggression.”