A MALTON farmer has appeared in court after becoming embroiled in Europe’s largest ever case of illegal veterinary medicine smuggling.
Last year more than 13 people were convicted for their part in the running of Eurovet, a company which smuggled more than £6 million of products to the UK.
The ringleaders were both jailed after selling unauthorised and prescription-only medicines to more than 4,000 British customers from their properties in France and from warehouses in Belgium and Kent.
Now 62-year-old Malton farmer Jeremiah Hagar has been convicted at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court of three charges of possessing unauthorised veterinary medical products, after admitting to being a Eurovet customer.
The court heard Hagar, who farms cattle and sheep from Barthorpe Lodge Farm, in Acklam near Malton, chose to buy cheaper medicine from the firm through “financial desperation” as a result of being hit by foot and mouth disease.
Caroline Wyatt, mitigating, said: “His farm was deeply affected by Foot and Mouth. It had a devastating effect.
“He had to restock sheep flocks after animlas were destroyed, then the price of lambs halved in a week. There was a significant financial impact on his business, and he had to find alternative ways to deal with that.”
Alexis Dite, prosecuting on behalf of Defra, told magistrates Hagar’s actions put at risk the health of people and animals.
Mr Dite said Hagar had failed to maintain a medicine book, which farmers are required to complete when selling meat for the food chain, and didn’t record payments in his accounts.
He said: “Its clear he knew there was something not quite right with what he was doing.”
Mr Dite said the costs of prosecuting Hagar came in at £18,707, however he was only asking for £10,750.
After hearing the evidence magistrates ordered Hagar to pay £3,250 costs, as well as complete a 12-month community order with 120 hours’ unpaid work.