Three men have been convicted after a campaign of ‘barbaric’ illegal sheep butchering activities to steal the meat and profit from it in the East Midlands last year.
The attacks saw more than 350 sheep and lambs killed and butchered by the men in fields around Northampton during the summer months of 2019, causing angst and fear among the local farming community.
Caught ‘red handed’ near the A14 by Northampton police on October 7, Robert Iordan, Florin Nutu and Voirel Manu were remanded in custody and eventually pleaded guilty to the charges.
The trio were sentenced at Northampton Crown Court on March 27, with Mr Nutu and Mr Iordan handed jail terms of four years and four months and Mr Manu two years and 11 months.
NFU East Midlands county adviser Harriet Ranson, who was involved in the case from the beginning and liaised with police throughout via Operation Stock, said: "These crimes were horrific, barbaric and unprecedented and had the whole livestock farming community in Northamptonshire and neighbouring counties living in fear that they would be next for months.
"It is fantastic to see the courts treating these appalling crimes with the seriousness they deserve and handing down suitably lengthy prison terms to these dangerous men.”
She thanked the police for their relentless pursuit of the criminals and urged the importance of farmers reporting incidences, since local information can play a key role in helping bring offenders before the courts.
Lead investigator DC Jamie Cooper said: “These crimes caused farmers a great deal of upset and anger last year and I’d like to thank them and the wider rural community for their support and patience during our investigation.
“Operation Stock was a huge team effort and I hope this case shows just how hard we will work to protect the livelihoods of our farming and rural communities, who were deeply affected by this crime series.”