A third man has pleaded guilty to sheep butchery offences that devastated farmers in Northamptonshire.
The trio travelled across the county, killing and butchering sheep in order to steal the meat and profit from it.
Viorel Manu, 39, joined Robert Iordan, 23, and Florin Nutu, 36, in pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal in relation to the slaughter and illegal butchery of sheep and lambs.
In one of the crimes, which took place between 22 June and 7 October 2019, a farmer discovered the butchered carcasses of 15 sheep while her two young children were with her.
The remains had been discarded at the edge of the field, with one carcass hanging from a barbed wire fence.
In total, 12 reports of illegal butchery were made to Northamptonshire Police during this period, with the Operation Stock investigation launched in response.
Mr Manu, from Birmingham, was due to stand trial on 23 March, but changed his plea. Mr Iordan and Mr Nutu, both also from Birmingham, pleaded guilty at Northampton Crown Court on 14 February.
Upset and anger
Lead investigator, Det Cons Jamie Cooper, said the crimes caused farmers “a great deal of upset and anger” and he thanked them and the rural community for their patience and help with the 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.”
Det insp Johnny Campbell added: “I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who provided us with information throughout the Operation Stock investigation.
“Without a doubt, community intelligence was absolutely key in arresting all three of these men and being able to bring them to justice.”
All three men will be sentenced by live link at Northampton Crown Court on Friday March 27.