Crofter fined £5,400 but spared ban for poor care of livestock

A crofter who caused unnecessary suffering among his sheep was fined over £5,000 at Lerwick Sheriff Court today.

However Laurence Johnson, 53, of Windhouse Farm in Mid Yell, was spared a ban on keeping livestock after making good progress on his animal husbandry.

Last year Johnson admitted three charges of causing unnecessary suffering in his flock of 1,800 sheep.

He landed in trouble after he was visited by Scottish SPCA inspectors a year ago in January.

They had been alerted about the state of his sheep and found nine ewes and a ram had been denied proper feeding and veterinary care.

Johnson had also failed to deal with a number of dead carcases on the croft.

However he was given a glimmer of hope after agreeing to allow monthly veterinary inspections.

Sentence was deferred in November to allow progress reports on Johnson’s stock management.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Johnson was doing “all that could reasonably be expected of him”.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said it was not necessary to ban Johnson from keeping livestock, or make a deprivation order in relation to the animals.

“He’s established an element of trust and the matter should be brought to a conclusion.”

Explaining that the maximum financial penalty was £40,000 for the three charges combined, he gave Johnson credit for pleading guilty at the outset, and took into account the money he would have spent on veterinary bills.

Fining him £5,400, he told Johnson: “You’ll remember when this case first called, I explained how seriously I took the matter, but you’ve kept your side of the bargain … to ensure the welfare of your animals is the primary concern of your business, and that now seems to have been established.”


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.