Farmer sentenced at Laganside Court

Date published: 09 February 2023

Nigel Foster (55), of Whiterock Road in Killinchy was sentenced today at Laganside Crown Court of ten charges of causing unnecessary suffering to pigs, and one charge of failure to comply with animal by-products notice.

Mr Foster received a 15-month custodial sentence on the ten counts of causing unnecessary suffering, and an eight-month custodial sentence on the failure to dispose of the carcases, to run currently. He will spend 7 and a half months in custody and the same period on licence.

Mr Foster also received a disqualification from keeping, owning, participating in keeping animals, being party to an arrangement under which animals are kept, from transporting and arranging transport of all animals for 7 years, plus £25 offender levy.

DAERA was awarded costs of £7,582.

The case arose following a report to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) regarding the welfare of pigs, at an out farm, belonging to Mr Foster.

When DAERA staff arrived at the premises they discovered dead pigs amongst living pigs, severely ill pigs and pigs suffering from starvation, as well as a large number of pig carcases, bones and body parts. In the opinion of a Divisional Veterinary Officer present over 90% of the pigs were showing signs of neglect, were not properly cared for, and had suffered unnecessarily over a long period of time.

This was a large, multiagency operation involving the PSNI, staff from DAERA's Welfare and Enforcement Branch (WEB), staff from the local DAERA Direct Office and Officers from the Department’s Humane Slaughter Team who had to euthanise all the pigs on the premises.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) took this case in the Crown Court because it is one of the most serious, farm animal welfare related investigations undertaken by DAERA, and because of the higher penalties available.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Mr Foster was convicted of 10  charges of by reason of an act or failure to act by himself caused unnecessary suffering to pigs and he knew or ought reasonably to have known that the said act or failure to act would have that effect or was likely to do so, contrary to Section 4(1) of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.
  2. Mr Foster was convicted of one charge of contravening or failure to comply with a notice served on him by an authorised person, contrary to Regulation 27(5) of the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015.
  3. The Department gives high priority to the welfare of animals and operates a vigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements. Any breaches are investigated thoroughly and offenders prosecuted as necessary.
  4. It would be good practice (as well as being a legal requirement), to remove without delay an animal carcase from a farm to prevent spread of disease and protect public health and avoid detrimental effects on the environment.
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  6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office at:
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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