Cruel farmworker walks free despite breaching animal banning order

The Northern Echo: FLOUTED BREACH: Michael Hawkswell outside court in 2002 FLOUTED BREACH: Michael Hawkswell outside court in 2002

A FARM worker who has repeatedly breached an animal banning order imposed for cruelty has walked free from court - despite flouting it again.

Michael Hawkswell was told by a judge - a farmworker before starting a legal career - that he was an "entirely inappropriate person" to work in the countryside.

Hawkswell, from North Yorkshire, was banned from keeping animals for ten years and jailed for six months in 2010 after livestock was found in squalid conditions.

The 37-year-old was already serving a ban for animal cruelty when trading standards officers visited premises in Thorpe Underwood, between York and Boroughbridge.

In January this year, as police investigated the theft of a livestock trailer from a mart in Leyburn, it was discovered that Hawkswell had been moving sheep.

Paperwork in the trailer revealed he had been to a slaughterhouse in Spennymoor, County Durham, prosecutor Kate Dodds told Teesside Crown Court.

Hawkswell, of Hadgarth, Nunwicke, Ripon, admitted handling stolen goods and breaching an animal banning order, and was given a suspended prison sentence.

Judge Les Spittle described his actions as "a blatant disregard" for court orders, and also ordered him to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work for the community.

The judge said: "It is said that you were brought up in the rural community, and therefore that sort of work is the only work you have any knowledge of.

"It is quite clear from the earlier findings of the court that whatever skills you do have, it should not be in connection with animals. This is the fourth time you have breached this order."

Stuart Young, mitigating, said: "He has been brought up in the countryside, and has made a living from the countryside. He has no real qualifications.

"He has struggled to do what the courts tell him. The defendant struggles to recognise problems and has shown poor problem-solving techniques."

Hawkswell's nine-month prison sentence was suspended for two years, and he was also put under Probation Service supervision for two years.

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