Animal-cruelty hell discovered behind the gates of ‘Haven’ farm

SICKENING -- pigs were kept in cramped, dirty conditions at the farm (Photo supplied by Notts County Council)

SICKENING -- pigs were kept in cramped, dirty conditions at the farm (Photo supplied by Notts County Council)

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THE HORROR endured by mistreated animals that were left to feed on the dead remains of livestock at a Dispatch district farm has been graphically exposed.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that trading standards officials were alerted to the hell that was being hidden behind the gates of White Haven Farm off Goosedale Lane on the outskirts of Bestwood Village by an anonymous tip-off.

Heffer at White Haven Farm that later had to be put down

Heffer at White Haven Farm that later had to be put down

A disturbing investigation was launched and when officers searched the site they discovered what they have now dubbed the “worst case of animal cruelty they have ever dealt with”.

The man responsible is 47-year-old farmer Keith Littlewood, who has now been jailed for a year for the disturbing mistreatment of the animals and failing to dispose of animal carcasses. The catalogue of cruelty unveiled emaciated cows and pigs living in squalid conditions.

The bodies of dead cows, pigs, poultry and even a donkey were found rotting when a harrowing raid was carried out at the White Haven Farm in Bestwood Village.

The images illustrate the full extent of the cruelty that was exposed when Notts County Council trading standards officers raided the premises.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that Littlewood had run the 24-acre farm off Goosedale Lane single-handedly.

He has now started a year-long jail sentence after admitting 12 offences.

Conditions were so disturbing at the farm that animals were found to be feeding on the dead remains of other beasts.

A search of the site last March found dirty and mistreated pigs, an emaciated heifer that later had to be put down, llamas in dirty conditions and a dog locked in a room covered in faeces. Some animals had no access to food or water.

At the farm there were 34 cattle, 31 pigs, 600-700 poultry and ducks, ten donkeys, two horses and three dogs.

Littlewood pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to four counts of breaching animal bi-product regulations for failing to remove carcasses and eight counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

He was sentenced to 12 months for the bi-product offences and six months, to run concurrently, for the cruelty.

A DVD was played in court to reveal the full extent of the offences.

Judge Michael Stokes, who has personal experience of farming and keeping horses, told Littlewood: “I cannot remember seeing a case where so many animals were left literally to die.

“Human beings have a duty of care to animals. It is plain to me you have fundamentally betrayed that duty towards your own animals.

“The conditions in which those heffers and pigs were being kept are almost beyond belief.”

Christopher Geeson (prosecuting) said there was a risk to public health because some of the dead bodies of the animals were in the open. He said there was a risk of rats and foxes spreading disease.

“A vet surmised that some of these corpses had been dead for many weeks, if not months,” added Mr Geeson.

The court heard that Littlewood had been depressed after the death of his mother.

She died in 2009 — fully 15 months before trading standards discovered the horror on the farm.

Officers launched their investigation after a call from a member of the public who had seen a dead donkey at the site.

A relatively small proportion of the stock was affected, said Sarah Lewis (defending). Of Littlewood, she said: “He was an esteemed member of the community and a respected farmer who was part of the spirit of Goosedale Lane.”

She added: “With some self-disgust this previously proud farmer comes before you today. It was not a case of wilful neglect and he was not motivated by profit.’

It was said that Littlewood was a registered British waterfowl judge and had a 36-year-old goose he had looked after since he was 12.

Miss Lewis said that he had tried to get the carcasses of the dead animals removed “but had found it difficult because of bad weather”.

Judge Stokes, the Recorder of Nottingham, said he intended to ban Littlewood from keeping animals. A hearing on this and an application for £5,000 towards court costs will be heard on Friday March 2.

Speaking after the hearing, Nicola Schofield, trading standards manager at Notts County Council, said: “We are pleased with this sentence, it sends out a strong message.

“This was the most horrific case of animal cruelty we have ever had to deal with.

“The scenes officers were faced with when they arrived at White Haven Farm were absolutely horrendous. We are immensely grateful to the member of public who reported this to us.”

Coun Mick Murphy (Con), of Hucknall, who is the county council’s lead member for community safety, said: “This has been an extremely difficult investigation and the county council officers involved deserve a great deal of credit for the professionalism they have shown in the face of such a harrowing and upsetting discovery.

“There is no place in society for any kind of animal cruelty, let alone on such a large scale and even more so when it presents such a risk to public health.”