Slaughtermen sentenced after secret cameras expose suffering in Halal abattoir
- Credit: Archant
Three slaughtermen have admitted a string of animal welfare offences after being exposed by secret cameras.
The offences took place in February and March 2016 at an abattoir called Simply Halal at Moor Farm, near Banham.
Undercover footage taken by Hillside Animal Sanctuary shows terrified sheep wriggling free from the restrainer before being recaptured and slaughtered. One dead sheep is lying on the blood-soaked floor.
Another is killed while still on the floor rather than being put in the restrainer.
The animals also jump from their restraining equipment in contravention of animal welfare rules.
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We have published some of the disturbing footage on our website to show the full horror of the case.
Workers from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which regulates the industry, were in the building at the time, but did not see the breaches.
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Most Halal meat in the UK is from stunned animals, but these creatures were not stunned. It is still legal to kill animals without stunning them first in the UK, but abattoirs must follow animal welfare rules before slaughtering them.
Roger Carr, who ran Simply Halal, admitted two charges of failing to comply with regulations for welfare of animals at the time of killing.
Carr, 70, of Kempton, Bedfordshire, was fined £400 at Norwich Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Slaughterman Akhtar Mahmood, 53, of East Ham admitted 12 offences and was fined a total of £600.
He breached animal welfare regulations by killing a sheep while the restrainer which was meant to hold it was still moving.
He also slaughtered other sheep while they were lying upside down in the restrainer and killed another while it was lying on the floor.
In mitigation, his solicitor Ahmed Muen said Mahmood was 'extremely remorseful'.
He said Mahmood only worked at the Banham abattoir for a few months unpaid to help out Carr because the normal slaughterman was away.
He added there was 'no justification' for what he had done.
Mr Muen said that Mahmood had worked as a slaughterman for 35 years without any issues and was highly respected in the industry.
A third man, William Lanham, 26, of Browick Road, Wymondham, admitted 10 charges of failing to comply with animal welfare regulations on Monday. He was also fined £600.
His offences included placing two sheep in a restrainer at the same time and dragging a sheep by its fleece before it was killed.
District judge Ken Sheraton said he was surprised that the maximum punishment he could give to the men was a fine.
Hillside Animal Sanctuary published the footage on YouTube in 2016 and gave it to the FSA.
It led to the FSA halting operations at Simply Halal. Carr resigned from the company in July last year.
But an investigation by this newspaper in 2017 found the abattoir was able to continue operating, by setting up a new company which was also part owned by Carr.
A spokesperson for the FSA said: 'Animal welfare is a high priority for the agency and we take all alleged breaches extremely seriously.
'We will investigate allegations and where abattoirs or individuals have failed to uphold the standards required, we will remove their licence to operate and look for prosecutions to be brought against those responsible.'
They said the site was not currently approved for slaughter.
John Watson from Hillside Animal Sanctuary said the treatment of animals at Simply Halal was 'horrific'.
He added that he was shocked by the lenient sentences.
'People will note that it is a 'non-stun' abattoir,' he said. 'However, it is worth bearing in mind that in other slaughterhouses we have investigated, that are supposed to stun animals prior to slaughter, the stun is often not carried out correctly and the animal is fully conscious while it is killed.
'Humane slaughter is a myth.
'Authorities such as Trading Standards and the Food Standards Agency do not have the resources to uphold animal welfare laws.
'Meanwhile, the public are led to believe the welfare of animals is a top priority, which sadly isn't the case.
'One of the shocking aspects of all this is that if Hillside hadn't uncovered it, the perpetrators would still be cruelly treating animals and causing them so much suffering.'
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