Alan Martyn Cleaver

Published on 20/09/2018

Alan Martyn Cleaver was sentenced at the Hamilton District Court on Thursday.

The owner of a pet-food company at the centre of an animal abuse storm has been sentenced to six months’ community detention between 9pm and 6am, 180 hours of community work, and a fine of $90,000.

He has also been banned from owning or exercising any authority over animals for five years and will have to pay $915 in court costs.

Alan Martyn Cleaver was charged after footage of abuse by one of his employees went public.

The recordings were made in August 2015 by Farmwatch and welfare organisation Save Animals From Exploitation (Safe).

The graphic footage shows bobby calves being picked up at farms and thrown on to trucks, plus being kicked and bludgeoned, and then being clubbed to death at an abattoir.

A Down Cow seasonal employee was included in the footage. Noel Piraka Erickson, 38, pleaded guilty to 10 charges of cruelty or ill treatment of an animal. He was later sentenced to 10 months’ home detention and 200 hours’ community work.

Down Cow Ltd shut down on May 18, 2016. The Te Kauwhata company, which picked up unwanted animals off farms around the Waikato, made pet food.

The company processed around 15,000 bobby calves each year and about 200 per day in peak season.

The charges were brought by the Ministry for Primary Industries in August of 2016. One, under the Animal Welfare Act, was failing to meet calves’ physical, health and behavioural needs by using and allowing blunt force trauma on calves.

The second was a charge under the Animal Products Act of not supporting animal welfare procedures.

MPI also laid the same two charges against Down Cow Ltd.

After initially pleading not guilty to all charges, Cleaver changed his plea earlier this year, just before he was about to face a jury trial.

Erickson’s mistreatment of 111 calves over two days, August 27 and 28, 2015, while he was a casual meatworker at Down Cow, was mentioned during Cleaver’s sentencing.

One calf, hung up for processing, was conscious and mooing constantly before Erickson hit it on the head with the blunt end of an axe.

He also drove a calf into the concrete floor from head height, and threw another over a gate.

Erickson’s behaviour was captured on hidden cameras installed at the slaughterhouse by animal rights group Farmwatch.

Some of the footage was shown on a televised Sunday programme and MPI started an investigation.


Crown prosecutor Rebecca Mann said it appeared Cleaver lacked insight into the seriousness of his offending and said the sentencing Erickson got was overboard.

“The Ministry says anything less than home detention would be entirely not appropriate.”

Cleaver’s lawyer, Jane Northwood, said on face value, it may appear her client lacked insight, however, given the nature of the work he carried out and coming from a farming background, he had a different perspective than the public.

When sentencing Cleaver, Judge Denise Clark said she did not dispute that Cleaver had a different view of abattoir work than the general public, however, he was bound by the Animal Welfare Act.

The sentence imposed relates to the charges under the Animal Welfare Act.

For the charges in relation to the Animal Product Act, Cleaver was convicted and discharged.

MPI compliance manager Gary Orr was pleased with the sentence handed down.

“It brings to an end a case that is unacceptable. These vulnerable young animals have a right to be treated humanely and ethically.”

 – Stuff



Published on on 17/04/2018

The former owner of a Waikato based pet food company has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty following the abuse of bobby calves at his business.

Alan Martyn Cleaver, 59, on Monday admitted to four charges at the Huntly District Court laid against him and his company by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Two members of Cleaver’s staff working at Down Cow Ltd were caught on camera abusing the animals in August 2015.

One of them, Noel Erickson, served a prison term after pleading guilty to eight charges of abusing bobby calves at the Te Kauwhata slaughter house.

The other worker, Curley Woolley, was convicted of ill treating four animals by dragging them and fined $500 plus court costs last year.

The secret recordings were made by Farm Watch and welfare organisation Save Animals from Exploitation.

Cleaver previously stated his company was unfairly targeted and penalised for procedures, which he claims were common and sometimes necessary among the country’s farmers and slaughterhouses.

One of the charges he has now pleaded guilty to under the Animal Welfare Act carries a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment and/or a $50,000 fine.

While another charge he admitted, also laid under the Animal Welfare Act, against his company Down Cow, could result in a $250,000 fine.

Cleaver will be sentenced at the Huntly District Court on June 22.