Workers filmed ‘playing baseball’ with live turkeys

08-09-2006 | | |
Workers filmed ‘playing baseball’ with live turkeys

UK magistrates sentenced two Norfolk turkey factory workers to community service after they were secretly filmed ‘playing baseball’ with live birds, in what animal welfare officers described as one of the worst cases of cruelty they have seen.

Daniel Palmer, 27, and Neil Allen, 30, both of Dereham in Norfolk, were filmed hitting turkeys with a pole at the shed in Haveringland while rounding them up to be delivered to other plants.

Both admitted to ill-treatment and were ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.

A spokesman of the Bernard Matthews turkey company said later that the two men had been dismissed after the incident came to light. “We welcome the decision of the court today. The welfare of our birds is of paramount importance to us,” he said.

Jonathan Eales, of the prosecution, said Palmer and Allen had been filmed by an investigator from an animal sanctuary. “He heard Allen say, ‘You throw them and I’ll hit them’,” said Mr Eales.

“They were using poles which they had been using to help them round up the turkeys, and they were using them like a baseball bat.”

Simon Nicholls, defending Palmer and Allen, told magistrates in Norwich that the two men had been influenced by peer pressure and the ‘culture’ at the plant. He said both men were of previous good character and full of remorse.

RSPCA inspector Rob Melloy said it was the worst case of cruelty to farm animals he had seen. “They were clearly treated in a brutal, inhuman way,” he said, adding that welfare standards in the poultry industry were a general concern.

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