Large sentence for animal welfare case

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Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

The Ministry for Primary Industries has welcomed a significant sentence for an animal welfare case involving farm animals handed down in Greymouth District Court today (7 October).

Michael James Whitelock was sentenced to a total of 4 and a half years imprisonment for animal cruelty offences involving dairy cows and disqualified from owning animals for 10 years.

Ministry for Primary Industries Animal Welfare Manager Peter Hyde said the offending involved horrific animal abuse directed at dairy cows on a property in Westport. 

Four and a half years imprisonment is believed to be the longest imprisonment sentence handed down for animal welfare offences involving farm animals. The next largest sentence was 2 years and 1 month handed down to a Waikato farmer in 2013.

Mr Hyde says acts of deliberate cruelty involving farm animals are very rare.

"Deliberate cruelty is unacceptable to all right minded people. This was one of the worst cases of cruelty MPI has dealt with. We take this sort of offending very seriously and the sentence indicates that the court clearly does too."

Three other offenders have previously been sentenced to significant periods of community detention and community work and disqualification in relation to this case.

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