Troubles come in battalions, they say. It’s probably not the same in sheep, but in sheep-stealing maybe it comes in pairs. We covered the case of Charles and Phillip Raine who were jailed for three years after begin found guilty of harbouring a hundred or so sheep.
Well, on 7th January 2016 another case popped up into the news as it was reported that Andrew Piner (49) and Thomas Redfern (26) were jailed for 34 and 21 months respectively for sheep stealing.
In 2013 Mr Piner and Mr Redfern struck twice – once on a farm in Yorkshire that netted 30 crossbred mule ewes, and then five months later they got 58 pedigree sheep from Lancashire.
The total value of the sheep taken were £35,000. They turned up at two properties connected with Mr Piner.
It seems that there was one charge of burglary and one of theft. This was presumably on the basis that one of the flocks of sheep were being housed in a building.
Mr Piner pleaded guilty, for which he would have got credit, whereas Mr Redfern was found guilty after a trial.
In terms of the burglary (page 12) the offence is probably a Category 1 due to the high value of the theft and the fact that it was a deliberate targeting by a group. This gives a starting point of 2 years, with a range of 1-5 years.
This is higher than the equivalent sentences for theft.
How does this tie in with sentences? It is clear that the Judge thought that there was a huge difference between the two – Mr Piner ended up with a much higher sentence even though he pleaded guilty – so he was presumably the organiser and the ringleader.
This is the sort of offending that doesn’t really fit in the guidelines. There is a very big disparity between the sentences for the two people, but there is presumably good reason for that.
It is interesting to note that the sentences of the two Raines was slap in the middle of the sentences given to these two (although the value of these thefts was higher), albeit they were handlers not thieves.
Will there be an appeal? Why not – it’s an unusual area, and not a set of facts that come up very often. We will have to see (if and) what the Court of Appeal make of it …