A FORMER butcher who decapitated a sheep and sawed off its legs with a penknife before starting to skin it has been banned from keeping animals for five years.

Dewi McCarthy, 24, was a butcher in Morrisons at the time he “mutilated” the sheep during a dog walk near Melvin Nicholls’ farm in Penyrheol, Pontypool on June 23 last year, Newport Magistrates’ Court heard.

The prosecution alleged McCarthy, of Blaendare Road, Pontypool, left the sheep there as he was “startled” in the process of dismembering it for meat.

McCarthy told the court last Thursday his partner’s collie dog attacked the sheep and he slit the animal’s throat to “put it out of its misery”. Fearing his dog would be shot, he then attempted to conceal the carcass by cutting it up, he said.

Hoa Dieu, prosecuting, described how Mr Nicholls was “very upset to see the way his sheep had been murdered.”

Mr Nicholls became aware something was wrong when he was out checking his fences in the early evening and noticed a collie chasing sheep in his direction.

He noticed two men with a mastiff and another dog and asked them to control their dogs. He returned to the farm, only to be told that one of his sheep had been killed “by two males, who had been dressed in black, who had three dogs with them”.

Mrs Nicholls called the police and they went with him to try and find the dead animal.

Near a pool of blood they found the head and the legs placed approximately one metre away from the torso, Mr Dieu said. The next day McCarthy went back to the farm to apologise and offer to pay for the sheep, and said he had mutilated the animal because he “panicked”. But Mr and Mrs Nicholls didn’t accept this and again called the police. McCarthy, who now works in a factory, pleaded guilty to theft of a sheep and carrying out a prohibited procedure on a protected animal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

He was given 150 hours of unpaid work for each offence, ordered to pay £625 costs and £700 compensation and was disqualified from keeping animals for five years.