Oxfordshire shepherd pleads guilty to leaving dead animals to rot

A shepherd from the Witney area has pleaded guilty to leaving dead animals to rot.  

Jonathon Simpson (38) who trades as Jon’s Shepherding of Hunters Close Farm, Middletown, Hailey, near Witney, pleaded guilty to 13 animal welfare and farming standards offences at Oxford Magistrates Court, following a prosecution brought by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team.

The court heard that Simpson had failed to comply with the restrictions on animal by-products, by disposing of a large number of dead sheep, over many years, by burying them in a muck heap to rot and decay on land in Oxfordshire.

Simpson also failed to keep adequate records that included a failure to keep an up to date register of animals, a failure to record animal movements and a failure to maintain a record of veterinary medicines, detailing when they were purchased, administered, or disposed of. Simpson also moved livestock without being an authorised and competent transporter.

The offences occurred between 2017 and 2022.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “We fully support our farming community and all those who work in it. The vast majority work to the highest standards. Those who seek to bypass the rules not only put the integrity of the food chain at risk but also gain an unfair advantage over hardworking farmers.

“Animal welfare legislation is there for very good reason, to control disease, to protect animals and to ensure the safety of the wider food chain. These offences put all that at risk. The lack of processes Simpson had in place risked the spread of disease, while also hindering traceability and attempts to contain any such outbreak.

“As the most rural county in the southeast of England, an uncontrolled animal disease outbreak would have a hugely damaging impact on peoples’ lives and on our local economy.”

Simpson was sentenced to a twelve-month community order, including completion of a fifteen-day rehabilitation requirement. He was also ordered to pay £2,000 towards the prosecution’s costs, as well as already paying thousands of pounds for the appropriate removal of the muck heap and animal by-products.


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