A MAN has been fined for killing a cow by shooting it in the head without a licence to do so.

Thomas Noel Mullin, 65, changed his plea to guilty on day one of a two-day trial at Burnley Magistrates’ Court.

The court was told how Mullin, of Huck Hill Farm, Marsden, West Yorkshire, was sent by his employer, Northern Fallen Stock of Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, to Westby Hall Farm in Gisburn, Ribble Valley, to deal with a cow that had not responded to veterinary treatment.

Welfare regulations prohibit the slaughter of livestock on a farm by anyone who is not properly licensed, unless there is an emergency.

In court, Mullin admitted he had not held a valid licence since the late 1990s. He also told the court it was not an emergency killing, and admitted to an offence of shooting the animal in the back of the head, which is prohibited by law.

To be an emergency killing an objective test is always required. The animal must be injured or have a disease associated with severe pain or suffering, and there must be no other practical possibility to alleviate the pain or suffering.

Burnley Magistrates’ Court heard Lancashire County Council trading standards officers and a government vet, who were on the farm at the time, had seen the cow get up after being shot in the back of the head. It then ran off, colliding with a parked car, before being brought under control.

Mullin then made another failed attempt to stun the cow before killing it while it was showing signs of being conscious. Witnesses described how they were left shocked and stunned by what they had seen.

It was not until after the killing officers learned Mullin did not have a licence. Under the regulations, only persons who are properly licensed are permitted to kill animals on farm premises.

As part of the licensing process, applicants must be assessed as competent by an authorised veterinary surgeon and be able to show they are familiar with the law and best practice.

Sentencing, District Judge Alex Boyd fined Mullin £750 and ordered payment of court costs totalling £5,031.

Following the ruling, County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Cultural Services, said: “This is a shocking case and no doubt caused great distress to those who witnessed this killing."