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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Inquiry call after turkey cruelty
Secret footage of turkey at the Bernard Matthews site
The pair were caught on camera playing "bat and ball" with turkeys
An animal welfare group has called for a government inquiry after two poultry workers were given community service after being filmed beating turkeys.

Norwich magistrates were told that Daniel Palmer, 27, and Neil Allan, 30, both from Dereham, Norfolk, used poles "like baseball bats" to hit the birds.

Both men admitted causing cruelty on 21 April this year at Bernard Matthews' Beck Farm in Felthorpe, near Norwich.

The Hillside Animal Sanctuary called for a probe into the poultry industry.

The solicitor defending Palmer and Allan, Simon Nicholls, described the conditions in the unit as "appalling" and said: "You can see why people move to an organic, more open type of farming."

He added: "You can imagine working in that kind of environment on a long-term basis. It must be really quite awful."

'Hideous actions'

Mr Nicholls also said the pair - who no longer work for Bernard Matthews - were influenced by "peer pressure" and part of a "culture" at the plant.

A member of staff from Hillside secretly filmed the pair after sneaking into the unit because concerns had been raised about the welfare of birds.

At Norwich magistrates court, Allan said he was suffering from stress and saw it as a form of anger release. Palmer said he was ashamed.

Daniel Palmer, left, and Neil Allen
Daniel Palmer, left, and Neil Allen admitted ill treating birds

Jonathan Eales, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told magistrates that Palmer and Allen were both employed on contracts to work as turkey catchers.

Mr Eales said investigators who filmed them heard Allen say "you throw them, I'll hit them".

He said: "They were using poles which they had been using to help round up the turkeys and these were used like a baseball bat.

"(A vet) who saw the tape described the abuse as the most hideous and blatant actions he had seen."

Wendy Valentine, founder of the Hillside Animal Sanctuary, based near Norwich, said she would like to see a Government minister order an inquiry into the industry.

Bernard Matthews said in a statement: "We fully supported the RSPCA's decision to prosecute two people employed by a sub-contractor following the horrific incident of bird cruelty in April."

The pair were each ordered to complete a 200-hour community order.




SEE ALSO
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