Cheale Meats animal abusers jailed

Posted on the 25th April 2012

Today (25 April), two former Cheale Meats slaughterhouse employees received jail sentences after pleading guilty to offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The men had been caught on covert cameras placed by Animal Aid in March and April last year.

Last week, Piotr Andrzej Wasiuta from Southend admitted three charges relating to stubbing cigarettes out on the faces of pigs, while his colleague Kelly Smith from Benfleet admitted two counts relating to beating the animals with excessive force and frequency. Wasiuta was jailed for six weeks, and Smith for four weeks. Their prison terms were reduced from nine to seven weeks, respectively, because they had pleaded guilty to the charges.

The prosecutor described how one pig was hit more than 30 times in 62 seconds, including around the head. That both men were in positions of responsibility and both used weapons were aggravating factors.

The cruelty caused public outrage when the footage was broadcast on national news last year. Despite the clear abuse of animals, Defra, the government department which had responsibility for bringing a prosecution, refused to do so, stating erroneously that the footage would not be admissible in court. The bench at Westminster Magistrates Court was last week shown the footage. Animal Aid has long believed that the decision not to prosecute was politically motivated. In September, Defra’s responsibility for prosecuting was removed and given instead to the Crown Prosecution Service, which brought this case.

Says Animal Aid’s Head of Campaigns, Kate Fowler:

‘We are satisfied that Wasiuta and Smith have now been brought to justice. Their acts of cruelty were inexcusable and caused untold suffering to animals who were already scared and vulnerable. However, many other slaughterhouse workers, who also caused serious and deliberate suffering to animals, have escaped justice because this government refused to act. We are now calling on the Food Standards Agency to look again at two other cases to see whether charges may be brought under the Animal Welfare Act.

‘Our detailed investigations have found illegality in eight of the nine slaughterhouses we visited, despite government-appointed vets being present in all of them. The current regulatory system does not work. It does not catch those who abuse animals. But this case proves that properly placed and independently-monitored cameras do work, and we renew our call for Defra to make CCTV mandatory to catch those who abuse animals and to act as a disincentive to those who might consider it.’

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