Somerset

Cattle-punching farmhand Owen Nichol sentenced

Owen Nichol
Image caption Owen Nichol admitted kicking and punching the calves and cows at an earlier hearing

A farmhand who admitted kicking and punching cows and calves at a Somerset farm has been sentenced.

Owen Nichol, of Buckland Road, Taunton, was given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for one year, at Taunton Magistrates' Court.

The 18-year-old was also banned from keeping or working with animals for two years.

His actions were filmed by the campaign group Animal Equality at Pyrland Farm in Taunton last December.

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Media captionSecret filming shows the cows being punched and kicked

Chairman of the magistrates Dr Peter Reed told Nichol his behaviour was "absolutely unacceptable".

He said the offences passed the custody threshold but Nichol would be given a suspended sentence because of his age and lack of previous convictions and circumstances at the time.

Dr Toni Shephard, from Animal Equality UK, said it was "extremely disappointed" he had not been sent to prison for the "disgusting attacks on vulnerable cows and calves".

"Anything less than a custodial sentence is a wholly inadequate punishment for these disturbing acts of cruelty," she said.

The RSPCA launched an investigation after being shown the footage.

The farm's owner said he was appalled when he saw it and the worker had since been dismissed.

Nichol pleaded guilty to the charges under the Animal Welfare Act at a hearing earlier this month.

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