POLICE are appealing for information after a number of sheep were butchered and their carcases left in a field.

Since October, six sheep have been killed and stolen from a farm off Walworth Road, near Darlington, with the most recent found this morning (Thursday, December 27). It is believed to have been slaughtered  last night.

Four of the sheep had disappeared and officers believe they were stolen to sell for meat, while the last two carcasses were left in the field, leading police to suspect they had also been used to 'exercise' dogs.

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PC Chris Smith, of Darlington Police, said: “The most recent sheep were found on the farmer's land and the way they were left showed signs they had been butchered there and then.

“The meat could be sold or the sheep could just have been used as a way of exercising dogs.

“This is not an isolated incident as it has happened more than once.”

The public were warned the animals had recently been given worming treatment and the chemicals could be harmful if eaten.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the police on the non-emergency number, 101, and ask for PC Chris Smith or PC Julian Brown.