A farmer has been jailed after an animal welfare group found 350 dead or dying animals on his property in North Yorkshire.

James Linsley, from Barnard Castle in County Durham, was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison after the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) found he was causing unnecessary suffering to animals in his care.

In a case that cost more than £100,000 in vet, investigation and prosecution costs, Linsley was found guilty of three charges at Bishop Auckland magistrates’ court on August 5 – the first for neglecting 53 sheep, 4 cows, 10 horses and a dog.

He admitted two further charges of neglect, involving 300 sheep, 17 horses, 4 cows and a dog.

RSPCA officers were called to the farm in North Yorkshire in March last year, where live animals were found knee-deep in faeces alongside dead animals.

A collie-type dog was found living off the remains of a horse.

Linsley was due to stand trial last month, but pleaded guilty to the three offences instead. He was also disqualified from keeping cows and equines for 10 years.

RSPCA chief inspector Mark Gent said: “It was a scene of horror of huge proportions. There were dead and dying animals all over the place, and some of the suffering had been going on for months. It is the worst case I have ever been involved with due to the sheer number of animals.

“The RSPCA had officers there for a week and it was a traumatic experience for all involved.”

In mitigation, the court heard Linsley had found it difficult to get food to the animals because of poor weather conditions.

Mr Gent said: “The weather was poor, but this situation took a long time to take hold and we were able to get to the animals and attend to them.

“Mr Linsley is a farmer – he is making money from animals and he treated them appallingly.

“There can be absolutely no excuse for what happened here.”

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