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Okehampton farmer faces ban for leaving dogs with maggot-infested dead sheep

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 26, 2012

Exeter Crown Court

A farmer is facing a ban from keeping dogs after he left a collie in a van with the maggot-infested carcass of a sheep.

A horrified policeman found two other dogs in cages in the van after being called to Leon Smith's smallholding at Okehampton by a neighbour who complained about the smell.

Smith, 62, has twice been banned from keeping sheep or cattle and is awaiting sentence for his treatment of 13 sheepdogs, which RSPCA inspectors found living in filthy conditions in February, with only the bodies of dead livestock for food.

He is now likely to be banned from keeping dogs when he is sentenced at Exeter Crown Court next month.

Smith, of Castleford House, Okehampton, admitted failing to provide a suitable environment for 13 collie dogs on February 14, 2011, and for nine others two days later.

Judge Barry Cotter, QC, deferred sentence in May to give Smith a chance to clean up his makeshift kennels at a plot of land he owns at Meldon.

But his case was brought back to court early by the RSPCA and Devon County Council to deal with fresh evidence of neglect.

Judge Cotter said: "There have been five or six visits and the primary concern is the welfare of the dogs. I get the impression Smith believes some of the agencies here have got it in for him, but his problem is the statement from the police officer who visited his property on August 16. If I accept what he says, I cannot see how he has complied with the deferment.

"The officer found a rotting sheep carcass in a van with three dogs, one of which had no food or water.

"The policeman formed the independent view from speaking to Smith that he had no idea how to look after dogs."

At the hearing in May, the court heard how RSPCA inspectors and welfare officials from Devon County Council found dogs living in squalor on two different visits.

The filthy collies were shivering in an open pen and fighting over the rotting remains of a dead pig which had been thrown into their wire enclosure to feed them.

There was nobody on site to look after them at the isolated and exposed strip of land.

Smith was convicted in 1998 of failing to dispose of livestock by-products and in 1999 of animal welfare offences, leading to a five-year ban from keeping sheep and cattle.

He was convicted of both offences again in 2008 and banned for a second time for a further five years.

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