Update: Another shearer has been convicted of cruelty to animals and banned from working with sheep for six months. Naracoorte’s James Edward Barnett, 59, beat a lamb with a hammer; punched a sheep in the head; slammed a sheep into the ground; and beat another with his hand piece.
In a landmark case, an Australian shearer pleaded guilty last December to cruelty to animals. It’s the first time in history that this has happened anywhere in the world.
Now, four more shearers have been convicted of a total of 60 charges of cruelty to animals.
The charges followed the release of a PETA US exposé which documented that Australian wool-industry workers beat scared sheep in the face with electric clippers and punched and stamped on their heads and necks.
Following an investigation, the Victorian government first prosecuted a Lucindale man, who appeared in Horsham Magistrates’ Court in December. He was banned from shearing or being in charge of farmed animals for two years and ordered to donate $500 to the RSPCA.
As a result of the investigation, at least five more shearers were charged and as many as 40 additional workers were considered persons of interest in Victoria alone.
Now, four Wimmera men have been convicted of all 60 charges that they faced.
Bradley James Arnold, who pleaded guilty to 26 charges of cruelty to animals, was convicted, fined $3,500, and banned from owning or being in charge of sheep for two years.
Jake Lachlan Williams, who pleaded guilty to 22 charges of cruelty to animals, was convicted, fined $2,000, and banned from owning or being in charge of sheep for one year.
Lindsay David Gillin, who pleaded guilty to six charges of cruelty to animals, was convicted, fined $2,000, and banned from owning or being in charge of sheep for one year. He was also ordered to pay costs of $81.20.
Graham Ivan Batson, who pleaded guilty to six charges of cruelty to animals, was convicted, fined $3,000, and banned from owning or being in charge of sheep for two years.
A sixth shearer – who’s facing six more counts of cruelty to animals – is scheduled to appear in court in May.
Punching and striking gentle sheep with sharp clippers and throwing them to the hard wooden floor are unquestionably forms of violent abuse which should be met with the full force of the law.
“There’s no doubt that wilful and gratuitous cruelty to animals has been par for the course in Australia’s shearing sheds.”
– Ashley Fruno, PETA Australia’s associate director of campaigns
The comprehensive evidence included video footage of 235 incidents recorded in Victoria alone as well as more than 40 pages of formal legal complaints. According to one investigator who waited in vain for sheep farm managers to step in and require humane treatment, “There is nothing more difficult than watching abuse happen and knowing that those in a position to prevent it aren’t going to do anything about it”.
This is a warning to all shearers that if you abuse sheep or allow someone to do so, you are likely to face prosecution.
How to Help Sheep
The realities of the wool industry are hidden from the public. If we all knew the truth about the way sheep suffer for wool, none of us would buy wool products.
Please, don’t support this industry. Choose cruelty-free fabrics instead, and tell others why you made this decision.