Man jailed after dangerous dogs mauled sheep to death

Warwick Foreman was jailed at Suffolk Magistrates' Court

Warwick Foreman was jailed at Suffolk Magistrates' Court - Credit: Suffolk police

A man has been jailed for being in charge of two dangerously out-of-control dogs which mauled to death livestock in a farmer's field.

Warwick Foreman was sentenced for a string of offences at Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Friday.

Co-defendant Vanessa Bice was not well enough to attend court and will be sentenced at a later date.

Ashley Petchey, prosecuting, said a number of sheep had to be put down after being attacked by Bice's two podenco dogs in four separate incidents last year. 

Police had received previous reports of the dogs running loose around Brantham, near Manningtree, when sheep farmer Thomas Hammer discovered three badly injured ewes – two of which had to be euthanised – on meadowland in the area of Gravel Pit Lane on August 9.

When police visited the nearby home of 52-year-old Foreman and 41-year-old Bice, the pair denied responsibility.

But, after one of the officers noticed dried blood around the mouth of one of the dogs, fur samples were submitted for testing and crime scene investigators collected swabs from bite marks on the dead sheep.

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On August 23, Mr Hammer discovered another two severely wounded ewes – both of which had to be put down – and a week later, after community protection notices had been served, requiring the dogs to be muzzled and on leads, Mr Hammer found two breeding rams with fatal injuries.

On September 11, he found two more critically injured ewes – one of which had to be put down.

On December 3, another farmer, Guy Lennox, found four sheep fatally injured after a dog was reported chasing his flock of about 165 sheep in a field between Lawford and Little Bromley, in Essex.

A blue Ford Focus, seen leaving the area, was later traced back to Bice.

On January 5, dogs fitting the description of Furia and Scoobie mauled a pet cat in Gravel Pit Lane.

Four days later, damage was caused to a jacket worn by a chihuahua in Gravel Pit Lane.

Both podenco dogs were seized the following day, and in March, Bice pleaded guilty to two charges of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control and three counts of criminal damage. 

Nigel Hensby appeared on video link from Bury St Edmunds police investigation centre at Suffolk Magi

Warwick Foreman was jailed at Suffolk Magistrates' Court - Credit: Gregg Brown

Foreman, now living in Compton Road, Colchester, pleaded guilty to four charges of being in charge of a dog worrying livestock and four charges of criminal damage.

In May, following a trial, he was also convicted of aggravated vehicle taking and criminal damage after he reversed a Bentley farm owner's tractor into a barn.

Bruce Clark, mitigating, said Foreman was remorseful and depressed about the consequences of his actions, adding: "He blames himself for the arrogance and stupidity of keeping the dogs off the lead.

"Miss Bice warned him to keep the dogs on the lead and he thought he knew better."

Foreman, who has 40 previous convictions for 161 offences, was jailed for a total of 21 weeks, including the activation of five weeks of a suspended prison sentence from 2019. 

He was also banned from driving – for a third time – for a period of  two years.

PC Andre de Jongh, from the rural and wildlife policing team, said: "The emotional impact on farmers should never be underestimated.

"These are hardworking folk that take great care of their livestock. Seeing a flock of sheep through the lambing season is an extremely involved process.

"The financial implications for farmers stretch far beyond the price of a dead ewe. It involves the loss of future earnings, the replacement of expensive breeding stock, veterinary costs, disposal costs right down to the impact it may have on their insurance.

"Dog ownership comes with great responsibility and if owners do not have tangible control over their dogs, there are significant consequences.

"People need to remember, it's not just about keeping a dog on a lead - it is also about recognising that a dog's actions reflect on the owner and a lack of control is neglect, and the consequences of neglect is a ban on keeping dogs/animals in future, as well as being held on a police record."

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