A FORMER North-West Tasmanian farmer convicted of 140 animal welfare related offences has had his prison sentence reduced on appeal.
Roderic Neil Mitchell, 33, was given one of the state’s longest sentences for animal cruelty when Launceston Magistrate Reg Marron ordered he serve 15 months prison with a nine-month non-parole period last year.
The offences related to Mitchell’s Redpa dairy farm during 2007 and 2009.
The inexperienced farmer, who hails from Bendigo, was unable to care for his almost 200 cows, with animal welfare officers finding them malnourished and neglected.
The Launceston Magistrates Court heard evidence that at one point his cows were dying at a rate of one a day.
The appeal, in what has been an extraordinarily drawn out case, against the convictions and sentence was heard by Chief Justice Alan Blow in Hobart’s Supreme Court.
Yesterday Chief Justice Blow dismissed Mitchell’s appeal against the verdict but found his sentence was ‘‘manifestly excessive’’.
However, he said prison was the only appropriate sentence ‘‘because of the number of animals that suffered, the extent and duration of their suffering, and the duration of the applicant’s offending’’.
‘‘Many of these charges related to cows that were neglected and not properly fed for a very long time, with the result that they went down, were unable to get up again, and either died or had to be destroyed,’’ he said.
‘‘Many animals suffered terribly over periods of weeks and months.’’
He resentenced Mitchell to one year’s jail with a non-parole period of six months.