Dog owner banned after sheep savaged to death

A dog owner has been banned from keeping dogs for three years after his pets escaped and killed sheep in a farmer’s field.

It is understood that 55-year-old John Coughlan has been handed the first ever criminal behaviour order after a number of sheep were attacked and killed by two of his loose dogs.

Mr Coughlan appeared at North and East Herts Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 10 January, charged with two counts of dogs being dangerously out of control – and two counts of being the owner of dogs worrying livestock.

See also: The law on shooting dogs – critical facts farmers must know

The charges relate to an incident in Much Hadham, east Hertfordshire, during the morning of 18 March 2018 after the two dogs had escaped from a property.

With the help of local farmers, officers found more sheep mauled in a second field.

Thirteen sheep were killed and a further six were injured following the attack, which police described as “one of the worst in the county”.

Mr Coughlan, from Widford Road, Much Hadham, was given a 12-month community order and instructed to complete 80 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £985 in fines and costs and compensation to two victims.

Police vehicles on farm

© East Herts Rural Police

Three-year ban

He was given a criminal behaviour order (CBO), which bans him from being in custody or control of any dog for three years. If breached, he could face a custodial sentence.

Mr Coughlan was convicted of similar sheep worrying offences back in 2016.

Sergeant Duncan Wallace, of Hertfordshire Police, said: “Sheep worrying and offences involving the control of dogs have a significant financial and emotional impact on farmers and the wider rural community as a whole.

“I hope this case proves that we take all aspects of rural crime very seriously and will seek to bring perpetrators to justice.”