Six men and a related company have been fined for animal welfare offenses in England.

In July 2022, the Crown Prosecution Service authorized charges, and at Crewe Magistrates’ Court earlier this month, all defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced.

The men, who worked at a slaughterhouse in Chester, were sentenced for offenses including causing avoidable pain, distress or suffering to animals.

G and GB Hewitt operates at The Abattoir, Huxley in Chester where cattle and sheep are slaughtered. It was fined £19,500 ($24,600) and £500 ($631) in costs. Changes have since been made at the site, so it is now compliant with the relevant requirements.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) monitors and enforces animal welfare at approved slaughterhouses in England and Wales.

Legislation introduced in 2018 requires slaughterhouses in England, where live animals are present, to be covered by CCTV. Operators must give authorized FSA staff access to the footage.

Problems highlighted by animal rights charity
The Crown Prosecution Service said that charges arose from events captured on this footage, which was reviewed by FSA veterinary staff in April 2021. This followed allegations from an animal rights charity that animal welfare legislation was not being followed at the slaughterhouse.

Problems seen on the CCTV included the way animals were handled before and during slaughter, repeated use of electrical instruments to move them, young animals left without food for too long before being slaughtered and staff conducting processes without the required certification.

An FSA spokesperson welcomed the outcome and said it should act as a deterrent to others.

“The operator of this slaughterhouse has taken the incident seriously by correcting deficiencies and improving standards in animal welfare, and is now compliant with all legislative requirements. This case should act as a deterrent to others as the FSA has a zero tolerance approach to animal welfare breaches. We monitor standards of animal welfare at approved slaughterhouses in England and Wales and all staff are instructed to take prompt enforcement action where breaches are identified,” said the spokesperson.

Stephen Mayren, 66, of Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire was fined £1,395 ($1,700). Mark Lee Hewitt, 34 from Huxley and Paul May, 49, from Whitchurch, were fined £525 ($663).

Gerald Mark Hewitt, 59, from Tarporley, was fined £1,000 ($1,200), Matthew David Arden, 32 from Whitchurch was fined £1,050 ($1,300) and Joseph Anthony Arden, 66, from Nantwich was fined £160 ($202). All men also had to a pay statutory surcharge and £100 ($126) in costs.

“The CCTV from the G and GB Hewitt slaughterhouse showed many examples of the animals being in avoidable pain, distress and suffering,” said Maqsood Khan, Senior Crown Prosecutor, of CPS Mersey Cheshire.

“The footage showed unacceptable practices and demonstrated a poor cultural attitude to animal welfare within the premises. The law in this area is strict and clear and this slaughterhouse flouted it on many occasions. These men have pleaded guilty so this case has been resolved relatively quickly.”

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