Suspended jail sentence for Dungannon farmer who duped victims into buying ‘dangerously ill animals’

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A Dungannon farmer accused of ‘off-loading dangerously ill animals in the dark’ and duping an unsuspecting farming family has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

David Lee, 56, of Carrickaness Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

He was sentenced to three months imprisonment suspended for two years for dishonestly making a false representation in respect of selling eight calves, and was also fined £3,600 and ordered to pay £6,000 compensation plus £15 offenders levy.

Lee was convicted of 17 charges, including one charge of fraud by false representation, eight charges of failure to notify the department of movement of 126 cattle on to his holding, one charge of knowingly providing false information; one charge of failing to keep a herd register and six charges of failure to notify the department of movement of 33 cattle off his holding.

The case arose following a complaint by a member of public about the defendant’s activities.

In sentencing Lee, District Judge John Meehan accused the farmer of using his 15 year old son to present ‘entirely contrived evidence’, and of demonstrating ‘complete disregard for the proper requirements for trading in cattle’.

“It is alarming that you are involved in this trade when you have a lengthy criminal record of different manners of dishonesty,” said the judge.

“You treated with contempt regulations meant to protect the health of the community, guided by nothing more than the desire to make a quick buck.”

These offences were discovered during an investigation and cattle identification inspection carried out by Veterinary Service Enforcement Branch.

A spokesperson for DAERA said: “The department regards the misrepresentation of cattle as extremely serious because it corrupts animal traceability and undermines the credibility of Northern Ireland’s computerised Animal Public Health Information System (APHIS).

“Cattle movements, notified to the department, are recorded on to the APHIS database. The provision, within statutory limits or upon request, of complete and timely information concerning cattle in the herd, to the Department is fundamental to the credibility and integrity of APHIS.

“Properly maintained herd registers form an integral part of the animal’s traceability supporting the accuracy and integrity of APHIS. Accurately maintained herd records corroborate and complement the APHIS details and help maintain public confidence in beef traceability and assists in animal disease control.”