Sheep rustlers jailed for three years


Two farmers who were found guilty of stealing more than 100 sheep have been sentenced today at Teesside Crown Court.

Charles Raine, 66, of Stainmore Road in Bowes, County Durham and Phillip Raine, 47, of Hazel Gill, also in Bowes, were each sentenced to three years' imprisonment after being found guilty after trial of conspiring to use criminal property. The charges were brought after it was found that the pair had tried to pass off the livestock of sixteen other farmers as their own.

The livestock, which was formally identified by the victims during the course of a challenging police investigation, came from as far afield as Durham, North Yorkshire and Cumbria. The sheep had gone missing from their farms over a three year period between 2010 and 2013.

John Dilworth, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East, said: "While the cost to those individuals whose livestock was taken is estimated to be in the tens of thousands of pounds, there has also been a significant cost in trust to the wider farming community.

"Given the nature of livestock farming, it is commonplace for neighbouring farmers to help each other by returning livestock that may have accidentally wandered onto their land. However, instead of helping their fellow farmers, Charles and Phillip Raine chose to exploit them for their own gain.

"I would hope that today's sentence brings a measure of closure for the victims in this case and that the spirit of the farming community is not adversely affected by the selfish actions of these two men."