Northern Ireland

County Down: Sheep killed in 'brutal' repeat attack

Slain sheep Image copyright Gerald Travers
Image caption The owner of the sheep believes that a group of people must have been involved

Three sheep have been attacked and killed in Ballyholland, County Down. It is the second such attack in four days and the third in recent weeks.

The dead animals were found with their throats cut and their ears removed on Friday night, having been last checked on Wednesday evening.

PSNI Chief Inspector Roy Robinson described it as a "brutal attack".

The owner believes that three people would have been needed to carry out the attack on sheep in an open field.

Image copyright Gerald Travers
Image caption The animals had there ears removed and their throats cut in the attack

Gerald Travers said he could not believe it when he discovered the slain animals, just days after an almost identical incident: "I knew it had happened up the road a bit, I didn't really expect it to happen again.

"Some sick mind has just kept going," he said.

He said local farmers are worried about their own livestock, "Neighbours are messaging me to try and sort out a way to try and catch them, and to get a 'farmers' watch' going", he said.

He believes "at least three people" had to be involved.

"The sheep must have been cornered, it definitely wasn't one man on his own.

Concern

"A couple of neighbours saw the sheep, all up at the top of the field looking down over the hill and had found it suspicious.

"That was 8 or 9 o'clock on Thursday night, it had already happened, we think, because the sheep were looking down at the three dead ewes and obviously were petrified.

"The sheep still haven't gone down to the bottom of the field where it happened," he added.

Local SDLP councillor Declan McAteer said there is growing concern for the safety of livestock in the Ballyholland area after the two attacks.

He has called for local people to be vigilant.

Police are appealing for witnesses and have conducted house-to-house inquires.

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