Belfast Telegraph

Man who ran illegal abattoir is jailed for producing unsafe meat

By staff reporter

A 30-year-old poultry processor convicted of operating an illegal slaughterhouse producing "unsafe" meat for sale in shops has been jailed for four months and fined £8,000.

Fermanagh Magistrates Court heard that when Department of Agriculture and Rural Development officials visited Nigel Wilson's Upper Erne Lakes Poultry on the Crom Road in Newtownbutler they found decaying animal by-products infested with maggots.

There were blood stains on the floor, butcher utensils and clothing, and no cleaning process in operation. The chill area wasn't working properly because of a faulty thermostat and there was a nauseating stale smell and general insanitary storage facilities.

Wilson moved to Australia in November 2011, and when the case originally came before the court in December 2011 he was convicted in his absence of marketing "food that was unsafe" on October 15, 2010. He was also found guilty of eight charges of breaching food hygiene regulations on October 28, 2010.

A warrant was issued for his arrest but he remained at large for over two years. He returned to Northern Ireland two weeks ago and appeared at Fermanagh Magistrates Court to have the matter dealt with, intending to return to Australia the following day.

However, District Judge Nigel Broderick jailed him for four months. He said members of the public were entitled to know that the products they buy in our shops are fit for human consumption.

He told Wilson that the facts as outlined in court "paint a harrowing picture of what was going on in your premises in relation to the slaughter of these animals".

The District Judge said: "What aggravates the matter is that they were sold through the shops for human consumption". He released Wilson on bail of £500 and a surety of £950 to appeal against both the convictions and sentence on condition that he surrenders his driving licence and passport and reports to Lisnaskea PSNI station three times a week.

The District Judge questioned why Wilson was now contesting the convictions. Wilson's solicitor replied: "He disputes that any of the products ever made it on to the shelves (of shops)."

The District Judge made a Hygiene Prohibition Order banning Wilson from operating a food processing business.

Outlining the background to the case, a prosecutor explained that Wilson set up his Corsenshin Farm poultry business at his home on the Crom Road in 2008 and applied to use the premises to slaughter chickens and turkeys. Officials made a number of visits to the factory and in March 2009 Wilson was given conditional approval for the slaughterhouse.

This was reviewed in June 2009 when Wilson said he had ceased trading as Corsenshin Farm and was now trading as Upper Erne Lakes Poultry at the same address. Again officials made a number of visits to the plant and Wilson was again given conditional approval to operate until January 2010, when full approval for the plant was refused.

However, when a divisional veterinary officer visited the factory on October 28, 2010, he found evidence that it was still being used for the slaughter of chickens and turkeys. He returned the following day with another vet to inspect the premises and take photographs.

There was evidence of recent slaughter and production with fresh turkey entrails in a container of bloody water. There were bins full of turkey carcasses and decaying animal by-products infested with maggots and a faulty thermostat on a chilled area.

Wilson later moved to Darwin in Australia, where he has been working in the oil industry.

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