Farm workers jailed for sheep rustling crimes

Thomas Redfern
Thomas Redfern

Two farm workers who stole livestock worth more than £35,000 from farms in Lancaster and Skipton have been jailed.

Thomas Redfern, 25, denied being involved in the burglary of 88 ewes after the animals were taken in raids at Curwen Hill Farm, Wray, near Lancaster and Newton Hall Farm, Skipton - where he had worked - nearly two years ago.

But he was found unanimously guilty of two counts of theft relating to the sheep and was jailed for 21 months.

Andrew Piner, 45, of Deer House Cottages, Gisburn, who was the manager of Lathams Farm near Slaidburn - where the ewes were found - was jailed for 34 months after he admitted theft at an earlier hearing.

The pair were snared following an extensive investigation in which DNA evidence was taken from the suspected stolen ewes following a raid at Lathams Farm.

Preston Crown Court heard how one victim, farmer Dan Towers, had invested his life savings in his flock at Curwen Hill Farm. In September 2013, Redfern, of Chisholme Close, Standish, was working as a stockman at the Skipton farm when 30 crossbred mule ewes were stolen, with a value of £5,000.

Five months later in February 2014, 58 pregnant pedigree Beltex and recipient mule ewes carrying Beltrex embryos were stolen following a burglary at Curwen Hill Farm.

Judge Simon Newell said the Forest of Bowland was an area of outstanding natural beauty which was “almost entirely dependent on agriculture” for its economy.