TWO men have been jailed for cruelty after they were caught on video illegally slaughtering goats.
The successful prosecution of Michael Hawkswell, 26, from Nunwick, near Ripon, and Isap Lakha, 67, from Dewsbury, followed an under-cover operation by RSPCA inspectors.
Both men pleaded guilty at Harrogate Magistrates Court last December and were jailed when they appeared back before the court on Monday for sentence. District Judge Roy Anderson sentenced Hawkswell to four months imprisonment and Lakha to two months.
Both were also banned from keeping animals for 10 years in what Judge Anderson described as an "incompetent and cruel" case where the animals came to a "squalid end".
Video footage taken at the site in Londonderry, near Bedale, showed the goats having their throats slit while still appearing to be alive. The method used was described in court as "inept, clumsy and cruel, causing considerable pain and suffering."
RSPCA officers and police raided the illegal slaughterhouse in January last year following a tip-off. Lakha, a retired slaughterman, pleaded guilty to cruelly ill-treating 10 goats and slaughtering the animals without a licence. Hawkswell pleaded guilty to charges of permitting animals to be cruelly treated and allowing his premises to be used as a slaughterhouse without a licence.
Chief Inspector Mike Butcher, from the RSPCA's special operations unit, said "We are determined to crack down on those who inflict immense suffering by running makeshift illegal slaughterhouses.
"They are gruesome places where a great deal of cruelty can take place before the animal is butchered and sold to the meat trade. Conditions can be appalling, with the remains of animals stored in filthy containers. In this case the goats were killed in the most inhumane way, without being stunned first. They bled to death slowly and in full sight of other animals."
Mr Butcher added: "We would urge anyone who may be buying meat to check that it comes from a reputable source and to report any suspicious activity to ourselves, the local authority or the police."
In court on Monday, Mr Simon Crossfield, for Hawkswell, said: "He admits he was, to put it mildly, idiotic."
For Lakha, Musa Patel said his only intention had been to buy the goats and slaughter them under strict Islamic regulations, having been brought up to respect the sanctity of life.
But Judge Anderson said the offences caught on camera were so serious he had no option but to jail both men for their "inept and callous" treatment of the animals.
The court was told Hawkswell had three previous convictions for cruelty to animals.