A BOY wept in court yesterday after being shown photographs of a lamb that had been kicked off a cliff edge to its death.

The 12-year-old, who cannot be named, was fined after pleading guilty at Newton Aycliffe Youth Court to cruelly torturing three lambs and a sheep and destroying a lamb without lawful excuse.

He was one of three boys with a role in the death of the animal during an horrific incident on Friday, May 4.

James Thomas, prosecuting, described how the boys had descended on the fields, near a Newton Aycliffe quarry, on the day of the incident.

The boys had entered the field and began chasing a flock of sheep, including lambs.

As the cruel game escalated, the boys started striking the animals with sticks and corralling them closer to the edge of the quarry.

In the culmination of the incident, Mr Thomas told the court how one of the boys managed to catch a trapped lamb, and kicked it off the edge of the cliff.

Mr Thomas then passed a photograph of the dead lamb to the 12-year-old boy, who started to cry.

He said he had only hit out at the flock of sheep with sticks in self-defence, as the sheep had charged the boys when they were cornered.

The court heard that the boy was remorseful for what he had done and that he had since accepted responsibly for his actions.

He had said he was not happy with his part in what happened, and he did not wish to get into trouble.

But while the youngster showed remorse for his actions, the court heard how one of the boys had laughed as he kicked the lamb off the quarry edge, before running off through a nearby golf course.

One parent saw the aftermath of the incident and reported it to police.

Magistrates' chairwoman Margaret Colling said: "This was a really nasty thing that happened and I do hope that in future you are going to keep away from other boys that lead you on. You have to know deep within yourself when to say no."

The lamb was valued at £70. The two other boys were dealt with at an earlier hearing.

All three boys were ordered to pay £35 each to compensate the farmer, £20 costs and each received a six-month referral order.