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Sheep shearer caught on hidden camera pleads guilty to animal cruelty

The footage, provided to The Age, shows Rickus abusing multiple sheep to the sound of John Farnham’s Aussie anthem You’re the Voice.

Rickus, a 21-year-old from Naracoorte in South Australia who continues to work and compete in the industry, was this week handed a 12-month good behaviour bond and ordered to pay $1000 to the RSPCA.

In handing down his sentence, magistrate Simon Zebrowski said he took cases of animal cruelty very seriously.

“If you work with animals you have a responsibility, not just to your employer and not just to the production of wool, but to the animal you are working with … to do your job in a humane way that causes as little trauma to the animal as possible, Mr Zebrowski said.

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Agriculture Victoria’s animal health and welfare compliance manager Daniel Bode said those
in charge of livestock, including people shearing sheep, had obligations for the care and overall
welfare of the animal they handled at any given time.

“It is an animal cruelty offence to beat or abuse an animal and this kind of behaviour is unacceptable,” Mr Bode said.

“This case is a strong reminder that shearers need to exercise their duty of care to animals they
are handling, and the mistreatment of animals will not be tolerated by the Victorian community.”

Emily Rice, a spokeswoman for international animal cruelty watchdog PETA, said the charges followed a two-year undercover PETA investigation.

“Shearers continue to be caught beating, stamping on, and otherwise badly injuring sheep as if these terrified animals had no feelings,” Ms Rice said.

In 2017, four sheep shearers were banned from being in charge of sheep following the release of covertly-filmed footage.

Shearer Toka Tai Rickus at work.

Shearer Toka Tai Rickus at work.

The shearers were recorded picking up lambs and slamming them into the ground, while others stomped on sheep’s heads and necks.

At the same courthouse at Horsham, the four guilty shearers, Bradley James Arnold from Natimuk in western Victoria, Horsham man Jake Lachlan Williams, Hamilton’s Lindsay David Gillin and Graham Ivan Batson from Keith in South Australia, were fined between $2000 and $3500 each and disqualified from owning or being in charge of sheep for up to two years.

Reports of animal cruelty concerning commercial livestock can be made to Agriculture Victoria on136 186 or via aw.complaint@agriculture.vic.gov.au.

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