Three men have been given suspended prison sentences for causing unnecessary suffering to pigs at a farm in Lincolnshire, after a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.
Shocking undercover footage of pigs being repeatedly kicked in the head, hit with gates and jabbed with pitchforks was filmed by Animal Equality in April last year and passed to the RSPCA to investigate.
Troy Wagstaff, Gavin Hardy and Arturs Grigorjevs appeared before Grimsby Magistrates’ Court for sentencing.
At previous hearings, Wagstaff admitted, between the 2 April and 27 April, causing unnecessary suffering to numerous pigs by inflicting blunt force trauma and physical violence. Grigorjevs admitted, between the 10 April and 27 April 2018, causing unnecessary suffering to four pigs by inflicting blunt force trauma, physical violence and the inappropriate use of a pitchfork. Hardy admitted, between the 25 April and 27 April 2018, causing unnecessary suffering to two pigs by inflicting blunt force trauma, physical violence and the inappropriate use of a pitchfork.
All were sentenced to eight weeks in jail suspended for 12 months, ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from owning or working with commercial livestock indefinitely. They were also ordered to pay £500 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
Hidden cameras captured the abuse at Fir Tree Farm, Goxhill after a tip-off.
RSPCA inspector Rebecca Harper said: “The footage is very hard to watch.
“The pigs are crying out as they’re repeatedly kicked in the head and face – they’re big swinging kicks, the way someone would kick a football. They’re prodded with pitchforks and gates are smashed into them.
“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.”
In mitigation, the court heard that none of the men had previous convictions, had pleaded guilty and were remorseful.
Directors and management of the farm acted as soon as they were made aware of the issues – and before RSPCA involvement – to ensure that access to the animals was removed from the staff members involved. The farm also reported the matter to the RSPCA and cooperated fully with the RSPCA investigation.
Inspector Harper added: “We would like to thank Animal Equality for providing this evidence, and we appreciate their patience and that of their supporters while we have followed due legal process and investigated the matter fully and impartially. It can be frustrating at times for people awaiting an outcome, especially when such horrific footage has been shared publicly, but we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation until the matter has been heard in court.”