A MAN has been charged with a series of animal welfare offences.

Thomas Betney, of Green View Lodge, The Piggeries, Hamsterley, was due to appear at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court yesterday.

He is facing 17 charges ranging from failing to provide 1,600 pigs with a suitable diet, housing and protecting them from pain and suffering on October 31 last year.

The offences are said to have happened at his pig farm in Hamsterley, near Bishop Auckland.

The 21-year-old did not attend the hearing but his solicitor offered a sick note to magistrates and explained he is due to undergo a psychological assessment on Wednesday, June 13.

No pleas were entered on Mr Betney's behalf.

The company G&M Westgarth Ltd, of Newsham Hall, Newsham, also faces 13 charges as part of the case brought by Durham County Council.

The charges also relate to the Animal Welfare Act and failing to comply with its duty to the animals and follow regulations outlined in the act.

Magistrate Gerard Canavan agreed to adjourn both cases for 28 days as requested but said progress must be made at the next hearing.

Mr Betney remains subject to a court summons and is expected to appear at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court again on Wednesday, July 4, at 10am.