Roderic Neil Mitchell returned to Tassie

FUGITIVE dairy farmer Roderic Neil Mitchell will be sentenced on 14 counts of animal cruelty today.Mitchell, 28, was found guilty of the charges, which relate to the negligent treatment of cattle that led to the cruel and suffering death of several cows, during an ex parte hearing in January.A warrant for his arrest was issued shortly after.He appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates Court yesterday after handing himself into police on Wednesday morning.He made an application for bail. Police opposed it and it was denied.Instead, the court ordered that Mitchell be extradited back to Tasmania, where he was to face the Burnie Courts at 9.45am today. The case is listed for sentencing, but his lawyer indicated that Mitchell would make another application for bail, along with an application to have the case reheard.Mitchell is believed to have left a calving cow to suffer for up to five days before it died.Other cows were left emaciated and experienced extreme suffering. Mitchell’s laywer indicated that his client denied the allegations.RSPCA senior inspector Frank Bingham visited Mitchell’s Redpa property in Tasmania’s north-west more than 50 times during the course of two years.“I honestly cannot think of a single visit that I made there in two or three years where I did not find some breach of the animal welfare act,” Mr Bingham told The Advertiser yesterday.He said he saw well in excess of 100 dead cows and calves on the property, and many others were sick and emaciated.“I spoke to Mitchell on many occasions, he always had excuses.“They weren’t excuses that we accepted. “He would put a cow’s condition down to vitamin deficiencies, acidosis . . . if there was a new word in the dictionary, he’d use it.”Mr Bingham said it was the worst animal cruelty case he had seen or even read about in his 20 years of service to the RSPCA.“I take no pleasure in seeing any penalty handed out to anybody, but the cows have had their day in court and that’s all I wanted all along.” Mitchell faces a maximum prison sentence of 18 months.