Published on NZ Herald (Northern Advocate) 24 October 2011
Far North farmer Alan William Summers, 65, was also sentenced to 400 hours of community work on a charge of “exercising authority” over cattle during a two-year ownership ban.
Summers admitted two further charges of instructing his son Lee Summers not to provide personal details requested by an animal welfare investigator and instructing Lee Summers to move cattle that were being inspected.
Alan Summers was sentenced to 100 hours of community work on each of those charges.
His latest trial was originally set down for a two-week fixture, but after he changed his plea on three counts and MAF withdrew seven other charges Judge D.J. McDonald wrapped the case up before lunch.
The seven withdrawn charges had each accused Alan Summers of “failing to ensure the physical health and behavioural needs of a cow were met in accordance with good practice and scientific knowledge”.
His wife, Narcisa (known as “Delma”) Summers, pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to ensure the health of a cow and was convicted and discharged. Six other similar charges were withdrawn.
Lee Summers was remanded at large on a charge of failing to supply his name and address when requested by an animal welfare investigator. Judge McDonald indicated he would resolve that issue when Lee Summers appeared before him again on December 3.
The court was told Alan Summers was sentenced in the Whangarei court on March 11, 2005, for three offences involving ill-treatment of dairy cows. Judge Graham Hubble then sentenced him to 350 hours of community work and banned him from owning cattle for two years after 68 of his cattle that were close to starvation had to be shot.
But Summers was noticed moving and drafting cattle when a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry inspector and a veterinarian visited his 161-hectare farm at Motutangi, 29km north-west of Kaitaia, in September last year.
MAF then hired private investigator Charles Payne to try to establish whether Summers was running the farm in contravention of the court order.
On October 6 last year Mr Payne photographed him and two of his children driving cattle on roads in the area.
On October 7 Summers was photographed alone bringing in cows for milking, but Lee joined him to milk the animals.
On October 9 two animal welfare investigators, a veterinarian and a farm consultant went to the Summers’ farm, where animals were noted to be in poor condition. It was during that visit that Alan Summers instructed Lee to release cows that were being inspected and to refuse to give his personal details.
A statement by neighbour Croydon Thompson said that Summers had been seen handling, moving and milking cattle “at all hours of the day and night”.
Another neighbour, John Harrington, said in a statement Summers had continued farming “like nothing had happened’.
On October 25 MAF investigators seized items from the farm including a letter from Summers thanking a transport company for a quote to move his herd.
And when MAF executed a warrant on Summers’ accountants on November 22 last year a letter from his lawyer was found saying his wife currently owned the cattle.
Outside the court, MAF animal welfare investigations manager Greg Reid said it was one of the worst cases of repeat offending he had seen.
“Not only did the defendant wilfully ignore a court order and continue to farm as if nothing had happened, his family supported his actions and together they let the cattle starve,” he said.