TWO slaughtermen responsible for the “extreme” suffering of sheep were seen dancing and singing as they killed the animals, a court heard.

Four people connected with the former Bowood Abattoir, at Busby Stoop, near Thirsk, received suspended prison sentences at Leeds Magistrates Court on Friday for causing suffering to sheep as they were killed.

The charity Animal Aid had obtained covert footage of halal slaughtering at the abattoir in December 2014, which was passed on to the Food Standards Agency.

Howard Shaw, prosecuting for the CPS on behalf of Defra, told the court it revealed a large number of sheep were caused to suffer unnecessarily.

According to strict regulations on halal slaughter, animals must be killed with a single, clean cut to the throat and then allowed to lose consciousness for 30 seconds before being moved on to the next stage of slaughter in a bid to minimise suffering.

But footage showed slaughtermen Kazam Hussain, 44 and Kabir Hussain, 55, of Bradford, waiting between one and 11 seconds before the animals were sent on to be strung up by their back legs on the processing line, still conscious.

Animal Aid footage played to the court showed Kazam and Kabir dancing and singing at one point as they killed the sheep.

The court heard that the two slaughtermen were professionally qualified and licensed and killed the sheep in accordance with regulations on halal slaughter when watched by the on-site vet, Pedro Benitez.

The undercover footage by Animal Aid provoked a national uproar, sparking protests outside the premises and condemnation from the Muslim Council of Britain.

William Woodward, 32, who now lives in Northamptonshire, had earlier pleaded guilty to failing to prevent unnecessary suffering of animals.

Bowood Farms Ltd went into administration in December 2015.

Kabeer Hussain, 44, of Brantwood Road, Bradford admitted one charge of failing to give 24 sheep sufficient time to lose consciousness after they were slaughtered. He was given a 16 week suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay £580 costs.

Kazam Hussain, 53, of Haworth Road, Bradford, pleaded guilty to two charges – one of not giving 19 sheep sufficient time to lose consciousness after they were slaughtered and a further charge of failing to cut the throats of six sheep in the required manner with a single cut. He was given an 18-week suspended prison sentence and also ordered to pay £580 costs.

Artur Lewandowski, 33, of Ribble Drive, Darlington, admitted a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to four sheep by lifting them by their fleeces during the slaughter process. He was given a community order to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £160.

Two other slaughtermen were also identified in the covert footage but have left the UK and cannot be charged.