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Dairy farmer jailed for 'extreme cruelty' to cows

Last updated 10:34 08/02/2013

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A Waikato farmer will spend this weekend in the care of his local church in Waihi before beginning a jail sentence on Monday for cruelty to animals.

In the High Court at Rotorua this week, Justice John Priestley quashed the home detention handed down to Waikino farmer Lourens Barend Erasmus in the Waihi District Court last October, and substituted it with a jail term of  two years and one month.

The home detention had been appealed by the Ministry for Primary Industries (formerly the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries).

Erasmus had pleaded guilty to three charges of wilfully ill treating more than 100 cows in his dairy herd.

By doing so he admitted breaking the tails of 115 and the bones of others by hitting them with milking cups and steel pipes.

The jail term has been commended by SPCA Robyn Kippenberger who said the outcome sent a clear message to anyone mistreating animals.

''If you look at the similarity between animal and human cruelty you would not expect someone who had vastly abused children to be allowed contact with children again for a considerable length of time,'' she said.

''Therefore we think this is very responsible sentencing.''

Ms Kippenberger said the result was not just about the sentence - it was about protection of animals that could end up in Erasmus' care.

''This is a crime of violence just like domestic violence and shows a level of cruelty that was extreme. A sentence of home detention would enable him to do that again,'' she said.

Crown prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch said Erasmus' offending was the worst type of animal cruelty of its kind dealt with by any of the country's courts.

He described Erasmus' actions as "wilful, intentional and repetitive", emphasising the maximum penalty for such offending was five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000.

His lawyer, Harry Edward, said Erasmus suffered from a psychological condition and associated mental health problems.

Justice Priestley deferred the start of the jail term until Monday and bailed him to his pastor's Waihi home.

Pastor Tim Palmer told the Times Erasmus had been attending the Waihi Baptist Church for the past couple of months. 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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