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Cheale Meats Employees Convicted under the Animal Welfare Act
Posted 19 April 2012
Yesterday (18 April), two former Cheale Meats slaughterhouse employees pleaded guilty to offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
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. 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 bench at Westminster Magistrates Court was shown footage of the attacks, which had been obtained by Animal Aid in March and April 2011. At the time, the cruelty caused public outrage when Sky News broadcast the footage and several national newspapers ran prominent stories. Despite the clear abuse, Defra - the government department who had responsibility for bringing a prosecution - refused to do so, stating erroneously that the footage would not be admissible in court. Since that time, Defra’s responsibility for prosecuting was removed and given instead to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Says Head of Campaigns, Kate Fowler:
‘We are satisfied that Wasiuta and Smith have 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. Animal Aid has long thought that Defra’s decision not to prosecute them was based on political motives rather than sound legal grounding. Today, with two men convicted on the basis of Animal Aid’s footage, that seems more likely than ever.’
Wasiuta and Smith will be sentenced on April 25th. The bench chairman, Jeffrey Manton, told them that custody remained an option.