A TOWER Hill farmer has told a court her way of life has been devastated by the criminal activities of her share farmer.
Susan Lane provided a victim impact statement to Warrnambool County Court yesterday at the appeal of Duncan John Smith, 36, of Paisley Crescent, Mooroopna.
Smith had appealed against the severity of his six-month jail term imposed in Warrnambool Magistrates Court during October last year after he was found guilty of nine counts of theft relating to 32 cows and an unknown number of calves valued at about $33,000.
Yesterday he pleaded guilty to the six counts of theft relating to 22 cows with a meat value of $13,596 but a dairy value of $52,500.
Mrs Lane said the offending happened between February and August 2009 and had a life-changing impact on her husband Brendan and their three children.
Mrs Lane said in 2009 her family started a new farming venture but their partner had to pull out.
Smith had been working for the partner and was left without a job and nowhere for his 50 milking cows and 40 heifers to go.
“Mr Smith said he would appreciate the chance to take on the share farming agreement that was available on our farm,” she said.
Mrs Lane said Smith made his money flushing embryo eggs out of his 50 cows and selling them.
“Mr Smith knew the cows that we had purchased had breeding. Little did we know that when Mr Smith came onto the farm he had a plan to flush eggs out of our cows and sell them without our knowledge.”
Mrs Lane said that even though Smith was on her farm for just eight months he had done a lifetime of damage.
She said eventually she and her husband felt they could no longer work with Smith.
“He sorted out the cows and left within two days,” she said.
“Mr Smith arrived with 50 milking animals and left with 80 and he had a number of 16 on his dead stock account. He also left with 40 18-month-old heifers and 40 calves.
“The numbers did not add up and we were missing a lot of animals, 60 cows and all the calves that year from 300 cows.”
Mrs Lane said her family had been put under enormous workload and financial stress.
“Mr Smith did not just steal cows from us, he stole our trust in people.”
The appeal before Judge Bill Stuart continues today.