Three slaughtermen and one former company director have today pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to animals at Bowood Yorkshire Lamb slaughterhouse in North Yorkshire.
The trial took place yesterday (January 22) at Northallerton Magistrates Court.
The case has now been adjourned until March 2, when the defendants will be sentenced at Leeds Magistrates Court.
The case follows undercover filming by animal campaign group Animal Aid at the end of 2014, which revealed incidents of animal cruelty.
According to Animal Aid: "Over three days we filmed covertly inside Bowood Yorkshire Lamb slaughterhouse in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.
"With fly-on-the-wall cameras, it captured the horrifying yet routine abuse and taunting of thousands of sheep, and the shambolic set-up that guarantees animals will suffer...At Bowood, which is owned by English father and son, Robert and William Woodward, sheep were kicked in the head and face; picked up by their ears, horns, fleeces, throats and legs, and hurled onto the conveyors; smashed headfirst into pallets; and turned over and thrown onto the conveyor upside down."
The investigation uncovered grim conditions
Animal Aid Director, Isobel Hutchinson, said: "We are heartened to hear that this long-running case, which involved appalling animal abuse, has finally moved towards a conclusion.
"However, we would urge the public to remember that this is not an isolated case.
"Over and over again, Animal Aid has filmed lawbreaking inside UK slaughterhouses. Whether stun, non-stun or even so-called 'higher-welfare' establishments, we have repeatedly found vulnerable animals being subjected to illegal abuse."
She added: "And even when laws are being followed, which often they are not, there is no such thing as a humane death at the slaughterhouse.
"These are brutal, bloody and terrifying places.
"We would urge anyone who cares about animals to stop supporting this terrible suffering and go vegan."