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Man convicted of stealing pet sheep, killing it and feeding it to dogs

Hartley Crouch shot dead another member of the hunt’s pet sheep and fed it to the hounds

A single sheep stands in a green meadow in the Edale valley in Derbyshire on a beautiful sunny day in summer.
Hartley Crouch, 23, killed a sheep (not pictured) and fed it to hounds. (Getty)

A 23-year-old man has been convicted of stealing a pet sheep, killing it and feeding it to dogs.

Hartley Crouch was working as the whipper-in (a huntsman who keeps hounds from wandering) when he shot dead another member of the hunt's pet sheep on 13 March last year, Northamptonshire Police said.

He then skinned the animal and fed it to the hounds, the force added.

Crouch was immediately fired from the Pytchley Hunt and the incident was reported to police.

Northampton Fire Station and Magistrates Court building.
Hartley Crouch was found guilty of the offence at Northampton Magistrates’ Court. (Getty)

Crouch, of Ashwell, was charged with theft and was found guilty of the offence at Northampton Magistrates' Court on 11 January.

He was sentenced on the same day to a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £775 in costs, £150 in compensation and a surcharge of £22.

Northamptonshire Police said in a statement: "Hartley Crouch was working as the whipper-in for the Pytchley Hunt when he decided to shoot dead another member of the hunt's pet sheep. He then skinned it and fed it to the hounds.

"As a result, Crouch was immediately fired and the incident reported to Northamptonshire Police."

Lead investigator PC Chloe Gillies added: "This incident caused a great deal of upset to the owners of the sheep who had hand-reared it and kept it as a pet in the back garden.

"Crouch did not have the owners’ permission to kill the sheep and to dispose of it in the manner that he did was horrible.

"I am pleased Crouch was found guilty of the offence and I hope this case shows that Northamptonshire Police take incidents like this seriously.”

Rural crime rose sharply at the start of last year after two years of decreasing levels during the pandemic.

Statistics from rural insurer NFU Mutual’s 2022 Rural Crime Report showed thefts had increased by more than 40% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same time the previous year.