A slaughterman who drove around Devon with more than 20 rotting carcasses in the back of an old refuse lorry has been told he must pay more than £2,200 in fines and costs.
A Judge told Andrew Goatman that he was lucky to have escaped so lightly after hearing how he flouted strict regulations designed to protect farmers and the public from BSE.
Goatman, aged 33, runs his own business picking up dead cattle and sheep and taking them to a rendering plant in Exeter.
He also kills horses and Dartmoor ponies and supplies their meat to the wild animals at Dartmoor Zoo, from his base at North Huish, near Ivybridge.
Goatman was taken to court by Devon County Council after he turned up at the J L Thomas plant at Marsh Barton in Exeter at midnight with a load of dead animals which was so rotten that staff could not tell how many cattle were in it.
He had paperwork for 13 cows or sheep but the amount he dumped at the plant suggested there were twice as many, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Council officials also found no record at all of the disposal of a dead cow which he had picked up from a farmer at Kingsbridge on an earlier occasion.
The law says that dead cattle must be delivered within 48 hours so it is possible for their spinal cords to be tested for BSE.
Goatman admitted two offences of failing to handle animal waste properly and two of not complying with the BSE rules. He was fined a total of £535 with £1,500 costs by South Devon magistrates last month and appealed the sentence to the Crown Court.
Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, threw out the appeal, imposed an extra £250 costs, and told Goatman he was lucky the sentence had not been increased.
He said: "In my judgment you were dealt with extremely leniently by the magistrates. I would normally have expected a fine of a minimum of £500 for each offence, if not £1,000 for the most serious.
"These were serious regulatory offences. You were running a commercial business and knew perfectly well, or ought to have known, what the rules were." William Parkhill, defending, said that despite disposing of 5,385 animals in the year 2010 to 2011 and having a turnover of £108,000, Goatman's business was running at a loss.
He suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and has problems with paperwork and is only able to carry on his business with help from the zoo's owner Benjamin Mee.
Mr Parkhill said Goatman lost £2,000 last year and was put in financial hardship by the fines. At the time of the offences he had a broken leg and had hired others to carry out deliveries, resulting in a backlog building up.
He was prosecuted after a major investigation by Devon County Council.
Speaking after the magistrates case Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said: "It is essential for both animal and human health as well as the monitoring of certain high priority public health issues like BSE, that the collection, disposal, recording and testing of such dead animals is done properly, that is why these laws exist."