A GRUESOME sight awaited a farmer who found one of his sheep skinned and butchered in its field.

The head, fleece and skeleton were all that remained of the animal which was killed on land off Jedburgh Drive, Darlington, overnight on January 14 or into the early hours of the following morning.

PC Julian Brown said that he had never seen anything like it before, and in a further twist, a lone collie dog was found wandering on land off Newton Lane around the same time as the sheep killing.

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Although it is unlikely that the dog killed the sheep, police are keen for its owner to come forward.

PC Brown said: “Somebody with considerable skills with a knife has stripped the sheep and left no blood and no entrails.

“It is very, very unusual, I have never seen anything like that.

“The meat won’t have been bled properly and would go off very quickly so I can only imagine it being good for dog food; which seems like a lot of trouble to go to for dog food.

“The sheepdog was found wandering in the area at about 10pm on the 14th, so that would be bang in the middle of the time we think it happened.

“It has no marks on it, or signs that had been interfering with sheep, and it appears to be well trained.

“It is more of a working dog than a family dog by the look of it.”

He added: “We don’t know whether the dog is linked to the sheep being killed, but we would like to speak to its owner to find out what is going on.”

PC Brown said that people with torches were also spotted in the fields off Jedburgh Drive on the night of the sheep killing.

Anyone with information, or who thinks the dog is theirs, should contact police on 101.