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Sheep attackers sentenced

PUBLISHED: 07:09 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:53 21 May 2010

Tristian Roberts and Jonathan Wilson - detention

Tristian Roberts and Jonathan Wilson - detention

Chris Bishop

Two youths were starting custodial sentences last night for their part in the sadistic killing of a pet sheep.

Tristian Roberts and Jonathan Wilson, both 17, chased the pregnant rare breed ewe around a field at Wells in the early hours of Sunday, March 23, before it was repeatedly beaten and stabbed with a garden fork.

Sheep owners John Green and Yvonne Asbury. Photos: Matthew Usher

Two youths were starting custodial sentences last night for their part in the sadistic killing of a pet sheep.

Tristian Roberts and Jonathan Wilson, both 17, chased the pregnant rare-breed ewe around a field at Wells in the early hours of Sunday, March 23, before it was repeatedly beaten and stabbed with a garden fork.

Yesterday, King's Lynn Youth Court heard that the animal was left with a dislocated neck, extensive skull injuries, a fractured larynx, broken jaws, broken ribs, a ruptured liver and multiple puncture wounds.

Roberts, whose address was given in court as the Sutton Estate, Burnham Market, and Wilson, whose address was given as The Scotts, Wells, admitted at an earlier hearing to causing unnecessary suffering by chasing the sheep and aiding and abetting others to injure it.

Animal rights protesters outside court

Reporting restrictions which normally prevent the media from identifying defendants in youth courts were lifted after the bench heard an application by the EDP, which argued that it was in the public interest to name them.

Jonathan Eales, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said witnesses saw three youths chasing sheep in the field before one shouted: "I've got one, I've got one." He said shouts of "fork him, fork him" and laughter were also heard.

After the attack, off Polka Road in Wells, the sheep was dragged to a group of garages off Northfield Lane, which the youths and their friends used as a drinking den, the court was told.

Mr Eales said when police attended after being called by members of the public, they found the animal's carcass in a wheelie bin.

Charlotte Winchester, defending Roberts, said: "Tristian is utterly sickened and disgusted by the part he has played in these offences."

She said her client, who had been drinking alcohol all day, accepted he had punched and kicked the sheep but believed it had been dead when he attacked it.

Alan Wheetman, for Wilson, said his client did not take part in the attack but was part of a "joint enterprise" which led to the animal's death.

He read out a letter from Wilson, who wrote: "I realise I have been mixed up in something I don't even like to think about. I feel so terrible about what happened to that poor innocent sheep. I would like to say sorry to the farmer and his family."

Roberts was thrown out of the family home and was sacked from his job as an apprentice plumber after the incident, the court was told.

Wilson had been accepted to join the Royal Engineers but was told this would be delayed by up to five years if he was given a custodial sentence.

Sentencing both to four-month detention and training orders on both counts, to run concurrently, chairman of the bench David Rice said the offences were so serious that only a custodial sentence could be passed.

He said the attack was "the sustained, brutal and sadistic killing of an innocent creature".

"This was a very difficult case for us," said Mr Rice, as the youths were led away from the dock in handcuffs. "You should now accept your punishment and go with the officers."

The youths will serve the first two months in a detention centre and the second half of the sentence in the community under supervision. No order for costs or compensation was made. Both youths were banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

After the hearing John Green, who owned the Hebridean ewe which was a family pet called Helga, said: "I hope they enjoy their holiday and you can quote me on that. I'm satisfied and pleased."

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