Court: Retired shepherd let dogs terrorise sheep

The case was heard at York Crown Court
The case was heard at York Crown Court

A retired shepherd has been banned from being alone with dogs after allowing his Border Collies to run wild and terrorise farmers' sheep.

Barrie Liddle, 77, was under strict orders not to allow his seven champion sheepdogs to stray onto farmland following previous incidents where his dogs had hounded and even injured prime breeding ewes.

But he took no notice of the court order and made life hell for his neighbour Paul Eubank, who kept 425 pedigree Swaledale sheep on land in Pateley Bridge.

In one incident, Liddle’s dogs forced 30 ewes against a wall and when one sheep made a break for it, one of the dogs ran after it, tugging at its hind leg and ripping off chunks of wool, York Crown Court heard.

Liddle was eventually arrested after repeated breaches of a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) which had been in place since June 2015 to prevent the dogs from straying onto farmers’ fields and private or public land including roads.

He made vehement denials against Mr Eubank’s allegations said prosecutor Abdul Shakoor.

Liddle had already been convicted of nine “sheep-worrying” offences and threatening to damage property between March and November 2014.

Liddle, of Old Church Lane, Pateley Bridge, appeared for sentence on the new indictment on Friday, October 13 after admitting nine counts of breaching the CBO.

The former sheep farmer entered his pleas two days into a trial in July, after Mr Eubank gave evidence about the incidents between June and October last year.

Mr Shakoor said trouble flared when Liddle moved into a bungalow in Upperdale View, near Mr Eubank’s farm, in late 2014, during the busy lambing season.

The barrister said Mr Eubank repeatedly found Liddle’s dogs straying on the roads and a private track next to his home and took two of them to a local kennels. Liddle was arrested in September last year but claimed the CBO was “not a legal document and an infringement on his liberty”.

He was bailed, but just a week later Mr Eubank saw two of Liddle’s Collies chasing his sheep. Liddle was arrested again three days later.

Mr Eubank, who has been running the family business for 10 years, said his pedigree ewes had been put under enormous strain by Liddle’s dogs and was a “constant worry” for him and his family.

He said Liddle would often shout and swear at him.

When he asked him to get off his land, Liddle claimed he had a “right to roam”.

The prosecution called for a complete ban on Liddle keeping dogs to protect livestock but defence barrister Holly Betke said: “He (Liddle) has been a sheep farmer his entire life and he was training sheepdogs throughout that time. He is concerned that if he has no dogs, that would push him over the edge.”

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said Liddle appeared “unrepentant” for subjecting his neighbour to a “torrent of abuse” during repeated breaches of the order when his dogs were “out of control”. He gave Liddle a 12-month community order with a mental-health treatment programme and rehabilitation activity.

Mr Stubbs made a restraining order banning Liddle from contacting Mr Eubank or entering a mapped-out area of land where the farmer kept livestock. He allowed Liddle to keep his dogs, but directed that he must not have custody or control of any dog without supervision by an adult.

Mr Stubbs said the collies should be “placed in appropriate care”. The dogs may have to stay with Liddle’s friend or son.