A PEMBROKESHIRE farmer who made a fortune buying and selling cattle on the black market has been jailed today, August 23.

Paul Vizza, aged 57, dealt in cows the authorities knew nothing about and could not monitor.

Vizza admitted an array of animal welfare offences including moving animals without licences, failing to maintain a cattle passport system and proper animal identification systems and failing to notify animal deaths.

He was jailed for six months and ordered to pay £20,000 in prosecution costs.

Judge Paul Thomas also confiscated £143,000, which he ruled represented some of the profit Vizza had made.

Swansea crown court heard how Vizza maintained a dairy herd at Brynfa Farm, Hermon, Glogue near Fishguard.

Alexander Greenwood, prosecuting, said there had been a history going back several years of Vizza failing to comply with legislation designed to prevent the spread of animal diseases, in particular TB.

Vizza was responsible for "hundreds of failings" over a number of years.

There had been numerous animal movements from and onto his farm despite many warnings that he needed licences.

When inspectors arrived they invariably found more or fewer cows on the farm than there should have been, and it was clear Vizza had been buying and selling without even telling the authorities.

During the period Vizza set up P A Vizza Developments Ltd and he was the sole director and shareholder.

As the authorities closed in and began warning him of prosecution, he protested he was mentally ill and failed to provide documentation, attend meetings or answer questions.

And, after he had been charged, he did not comply with a Proceeds of Crime Act investigation aimed at discovering how much he had made.

At one stage, said Mr Greenwood, he claimed he had "completely forgotten" that his company owned a £2m farm near the village of Steynton.

Judge Thomas said he had no doubt Vizza had deliberately flouted the law to make money and that, as the net began to close, he salted it away.

He said he accepted that Vizza had suffered mental illness but believed he had exaggerated the extent to try and explain his failings to comply with the rules.

There appeared to have been 458 animal movements the authorities could not monitor and at least 143 sales that would have involved moving cows off the farm without licences.

He described Vizza as dishonest and devious and said most of his so called explanations were simply unbelievable.

Judge Thomas said Vizza would serve an extra 18-month sentence if he did not pay the £143,000 within three months and six months if he failed to pay the £20,000 within six months.

"The message has to go out that these regulations are important for the safety of cattle and the public," he added.