Police investigation after distraught couple find pet sheep mutilated with tongues cut out


A couple of told of their heartache after they discovered three of their sheep had had their necks broken and their tongues cut out.

Ferg Roylance and Zara Bowden discovered the mutilated sheep last Friday and police found a single set of footprints.

The couple, who live on a farm in Marton, Winsford, said the two lambs and one older sheep belonged to a flock of 19 and were their pride and joy, with one of the orphan lambs being named after Ferg’s late grandmother, Valerie.

Zara said: “They are not commercial sheep, they are our pets. They were really special and important sheep to us, and they are pedigrees so they are not cheap either.

“It’s absolutely appalling that someone would do that to an animal, any animal.”

Officers from the Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team have begun an investigation, reports CheshireLive.

Zara said: “It’s so random because people say ‘oh sheep just die for dying’ but they didn’t just drop dead for no reason.

“Luckily it had snowed so you could see footprints and where they had come from.

The sheep were discovered with their necks broken.

“They had come over the back gate, off the roadside, and through the back field and broke the sheep’s necks. Police found one pair of footprints so at the moment we think it’s a lone person on their own.”

Police took swabs from the animals’ mouths and discovered that their tongues had been cut out with a bladed article.

“We thought that was strange, why would anyone want to cut a sheep’s tongue out and leave the rest of the sheep there?,” said Zara.

“The tongue isn’t a very profitable part of the sheep if they were going to sell it, also when you hear of people killing sheep like that they normally take them away.”

The flock are described as tame and friendly and will often approach people for attention, says Zara.

“The sheep would run up to you for a scratch, they used to drive you mad because you would be trying to do your job and the sheep are pestering you for a scratch.

Police are investigating

“That’s how they were, whoever has gone and done it … the sheep have run up to them to see them and they’ve killed them … and I just can’t get my head around that.”

Ferg, 20, and Zara, 19, who have been together for four years, bought their own flock of pedigree sheep two years ago.

The sheep which were killed were part of the family and the couple would often take them to award shows.

Zara said: “They have been placed at Cheshire show, so they are well looked after sheep, they are our babies and they are well fed, they are not just on the moor.”

Police have told the couple to remain vigilant and since the attack the pair have been bringing the flock inside every night.

“We are so worried about it, every time the dog barks we are panicking and checking the cameras,” said Zara.

“You don’t want strangers walking around your property, not only have we got sheep but we’ve got horses, dogs, cats, it’s a proper little farm.”

The couple want to make the public aware the attack was not dog-related and are hopeful the person responsible can be caught soon.

Zara said: “It’s not an animal because the sheep would have been torn apart, they had the necks broken and their tongues cut out, with no blood on them whatsoever.

“Hopefully, if they do it again, the police will be able to catch who it is because it is not normal and it’s not fair, not just because they are animals.

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“For some farmers sheep are just commercial but to us they are literally our pet sheep, they really mean a lot to us and it’s very sad they are gone.”

Worryingly, the couple believe the attack may have been targeted, although police are still investigating.

“They must have known they were there because the sheep are kept at the back of the house, so someone has tipped them off or they have been wandering around in the past.”

Cheshire police believe the attack took place between 10pm-11pm on Thursday, January 7.

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PC Moss of the Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team said: “There are some extremely unusual elements in the case and a thorough investigation is currently underway to establish the full circumstances and to identify the offender/s.

“If you saw anything suspicious in the Marton area: any persons or vehicles: particularly along Dalefords Lane or Cinder Hill then please get in contact via 101 and quote IML-890541.”





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