A Glen Innes farmer threatened RSPCA workers who were euthanasing cattle he had underfed and told police he'd like to kill them all.
Court documents show James Bruce Newsome was grazing around 400 cattle on a 520 acre property near Wellingrove.
When RSPCA officers arrived on July 10 to issue a section 24Q order permitting them to seize many of his cattle it started an agonising day-long ordeal for the 66-year-old farmer.
Twelve of his cattle had to be put down that day.
While listening to an RSPCA Inspector shoot them, he turned shouted "you'd better save a bullet for yourself".
Newsome pleaded guilty to a charge of intimidating an RSPCA Inspector in Glen Innes Local Court on Wednesday August 14. The farmer was unrepresented, but presented Magistrate Jacqueline Trad with a one-page letter asking for mercy.
Magistrate Trad said she had great sympathy for the farmer's plight during the drought conditions, and acknowledged the "distressing situation" on July 10.
But the Magistrate said the RSPCA were just doing their job by caring for the animals under the same intensely difficult circumstances.
She said animals don't understand what's going on, so it's up to humans to make decisions for them and to look after their welfare.
"I feel for the RSPCA as much as I do for you."
Newsome is still running the property with reduced numbers and told the court in a very quiet tone he was able to manage his herd better after being forced to destock.
Court documents show RSPCA and Local Land Services were tipped off about the state of his herd in July 2018, and visited his property more than 15 times over the next year, repeatedly issuing feed orders and helping Newsome develop a feed management plan.
Nothing worked. Newsome bought a hay, pellet and corn silage mix, but didn't feed cattle at the quantities ordered by the RSPCA.
By July 2019 the cattle were still deemed at risk of starvation and continued deteriorating. The RSPCA were granted authority under section 24Q of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to seize and dispose of the cattle on the Wellingrove farm without compensation.
Alongside LLS vets, staff from the Department of Primary Industries and several police, RSPCA issued the notice at 8.15am on July 10 and began loading the herd onto two road trains to be sold at the next Glen Innes cattle sale.
Vets assessed 12 as too weak to truck or leave alive.
He tried to argue with a vet that three of them should be spared, but vets told him they had no choice but to put them all down.
"I hope the bombs come soon and kill you all," he responded.
Police ushered him away from the RSPCA but he turned and said "I know you all, you'd better look out".
He then turned again and said "I'll see you all in the next life, I'll get you then".
Police warned him three times to stop making threats before finally he told them he'd love to kill them all.
He was warned again.
Finally, as the bullets started, he threatened the RSPCA the last time. Police arrested him and took him to Glen Innes Police Station.
He was issued a conditional release order but the court did not record a conviction.
"The reason why I'm putting you on an order is because the struggles aren't over for you," said Magistrate Trad.
"And you've got to cooperate with the authorities when they do need to take action."