New Zealand Law Society - Golden Bay farmer banned from owning animals for 5 years

Golden Bay farmer banned from owning animals for 5 years

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A Golden Bay farmer who broke the tails of several cows, hit them with a polythene pipe, and kicked one of his herd in the stomach, has been banned from owning animals for 5 years.

Steven John Wells, 45, was sentenced in the Nelson District Court this week following prosecution action taken by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Wells was earlier convicted on 6 charges of ill-treating animals after being found guilty at a judge-alone trial in March.

The court heard, amongst other evidence, how Wells would hit his cows with a polythene pipe with excessive force to direct them into the milking shed, how he failed to provide proper care and treatment for cows when they fell ill, how he made some of the herd walk 3 kilometres to and from the milking shed each day, and how he left dead cows and calf carcasses in paddocks and lanes rather than disposing of them properly.

During the trial, a number of former employees and co-workers gave evidence about Mr Wells' ill-treatment of his animals and his anger management issues.

Judge Tony Zohrab told the court that Wells' actions, including slamming a gate into a cow's head, all constituted "extreme violence".

MPI team manager animal welfare compliance (south), Murray Pridham, says Wells' offending was very serious.

"The cows he ill-treated would have been in considerable pain," says Mr Pridham.

"It's always concerning to discover this sort of cruelty towards animals. There is absolutely no excuse for it.

"MPI takes our role as the regulator for animal welfare compliance, very seriously. Where we have clear evidence of offending of this nature, we'll take prosecution action."

Wells was sentenced to 6 months' community detention, 180 hours' community work, and disqualified from exercising authority over animals for 5 years.

He was also ordered to pay costs to MPI.

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