Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Three men spare jail after kicking pigs in face and jabbing with pitchforks

Protesters outside Grimsby Magistrates' Court as three men are sentenced for causing unnecessary suffering to pigs Credit: Henry Clare/PA Wire

Three men who were secretly filmed carrying out the "relentless" abuse of pigs have been spared jail.

Some of the animals can be heard squealing in pain as they are kicked in the face and jabbed with pitchforks in footage showing the full extent of their mistreatment by Troy Wagstaff, 30, Artis Grogprkevs, 32, and Gavin Hardy, 39.

The men were brought to justice after being covertly filmed in April last year by the group Animal Equality, which installed secret cameras at Fir Tree Farm in Goxhill, North Lincolnshire, after receiving an anonymous tip-off about the abuse.

Dr Toni Shephard, the UK director of the group, had previously said of the men's actions: "This is some of the worst abuse that we have seen - it was relentless."

Members of various animal rights groups were stood outside Grimsby Magistrates' Court on Thursday, where the men appeared to be sentenced, having previously admitted causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

In the video footage, the men can be seen shouting repeatedly at the animals, with two of the defendants being captured laughing as one abused sow tried to leave its pen.

District Judge Daniel Curtis handed Wagstaff, of Chantry Lane, Grimsby, Grogprkevs, of Oak Road, Goole, East Yorkshire, and Hardy, of Greengate Lane, South Killingholme, North Lincolnshire, sentences of eight weeks, suspended for 12 months.

The three men were additionally banned from working with commercial livestock in the future.

They were also ordered to undergo 100 hours of unpaid work.

Sentencing the three, Mr Curtis said: "Let me be very clear that the footage of the offences that you three have committed is sickening to watch.

"These were deliberate and gratuitous attempts to cause suffering, it was ill-treatment in a commercial context.

"For people who have worked in this industry for many years, you should be ashamed."

Mr Curtis said that the video of the pig abuse was among some of the worst footage he has seen in his 14 years in the role, adding that the animals were "defenceless".

The court heard how the men were dismissed from their roles at the farm shortly after the video emerged.

Prosecutors explained how Wagstaff had served as an animal welfare manager, while Hardy had been working with pigs for around 20 years, and Grogprkevs had worked with livestock for nine years.

Speaking outside court, Dr Shephard said she was "extremely disappointed" by what she described as "lenient sentences".

She added: "The pigs squealed every time they were kicked in the face, pigs were clearly terrified, trying to escape from the men using pitchforks on them.

"These were animals who were incredibly vulnerable, and these were the men who were supposed to be caring for them."

When asked whether the sentences are sufficient to act as a deterrent, Dr Shephard said: "Absolutely not."

RSPCA inspector Becky Harper said that she felt the judge was "very fair" in his summing up of the case.

She said: "It's not very often that we bring this sort of investigation to court, because it's not very often that we get evidence or get made aware of this kind of situation happening, so the fact that it's even come to court and it's had the press interest that it's had will hopefully deter people in future."