Wimmera shearer banned after animal cruelty

Naracoorte’s James Edward Barnett, 59, is the fifth shearer to be charged with animal cruelty offences this year.

Naracoorte’s James Edward Barnett, 59, is the fifth shearer to be charged with animal cruelty offences this year.

A CHAMPION blade shearer has been banned from working with sheep for six months after he beat a lamb with a hammer.

Naracoorte’s James Edward Barnett, 59, is the fifth shearer to be charged with animal cruelty offences this year.

He appeared in Horsham Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty.

It comes after four shearers also faced court for animal cruelty charges in February.

The cruelty charges followed a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals campaign, where activists gained work as rouseabouts and fitted themselves with cameras to film shearers.

Agriculture Victoria prosecutor Michael Woods said Barnett’s charges related to incidents that happened between November and December 2013 at sheds at Neuarpurr and Poolaijelo.

The court heard Barnett punched a sheep in the head with his fist on November 18.

On November 27, he struck a sheep in the head with his hand piece.

The court heard Barnett grabbed a sheep by the neck and lifted it up before slamming in onto the ground on November 29.

Mr Woods said a lamb was struggling against Barnett on December 8.

He said Barnett put down his hand piece, picked up a ball-peen hammer and beat the lamb with considerable force. A video of the incidents was shown in court.

Mr Woods said Barnett’s actions were deliberate

“All people involved in animals have a duty of care and this has not been met,” he said. 

Defence barrister Alan Marshall said Barnett was ashamed of his actions.

“It has really changed his life – he was a champion blade shearer but he has given up going to competitions,” he said. 

Mr Marshall said farmers still considered Barnett a good shearer and had continued to work with him.

He said during the time of the incidents, Barnett’s ex-wife had been diagnosed with cancer. She died a few months later.

Mr Marshall said banning Barnett from shearing, for any length of time, would be a life sentence.

“It would deprive him of his living,” he said. “His life is moving from shed to shed.

“His actions were very much out of character – he’s been involved in the industry since he was 16.” 

Magistrate Mark Stratmann said it was important that any penalties in this matter were on par with the other shearers who were charged with animal cruelty.

“Why should he be treated any differently?” he said.

Mr Stratmann said the video of Barnett’s actions was distressing to watch.

He fined Barnett $2000 with conviction. He also banned Barnett for being in charge of, or owning, sheep for six months.

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