Farmer spared jail over 'cannibal' pigs

A pig farmer whose starving animals were kept in such appalling conditions that they resorted to cannibalism has been spared a prison sentence, prosecutors said today.

Investigators who raided the Happy Pig Company in Pevensey, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, in January found 15 underfed pigs living with inadequate food, water and bedding.



At least two pigs were dead and the remains of two others were found, which the live starving animals were eating because they had no other food.



Farmer Keith Barnett, 60, of The Square, Pevensey Bay, admitted seven counts of animal cruelty earlier this month and appeared for sentencing at Hastings Magistrates' Court yesterday.



He was banned from keeping or owning pigs, given a five-month curfew to run from 7pm to 7am and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £880.



Gareth Jones, who prosecuted the case on behalf of East Sussex Trading Standards, said today: "He could have received a custodial sentence and that was one of the options the court looked at.



"If you look after pigs, you have to make sure they have plenty of food, water and adequate bedding.



"The conditions here were pretty lousy. It's ironic it's called the Happy Pig Company."



Barnett was allowed by magistrates to keep his 12 chickens following the prosecution which was launched in conjunction with trading standards and the Animal Health agency.



At a previous hearing the court heard that Barnett had started keeping pigs in 2007 but struggled to cope following a heart attack.

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