Trio on sheep rustling charge

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Three men have appeared before Blackburn magistrates charged in connection with sheep rustling in the Ribble Valley.

The trio face an allegation of handling 55 in-lamb ewes together worth between £10,000 and £15,000 which were stolen from a farm in Chipping. The sheep belonged to farmer Robert Dean.

James Robert Hesketh (21), of Wheatsheaf Avenue, Longridge, John Kirkham (65), of Whittingham Lane, Goosnargh, and Robert Muir (45), of Francis Street, Crook, County Durham, all pleaded not guilty to handling the stolen sheep and were directed to stand trial at Preston Crown Court.

Mr Peter Wilde (prosecuting) said after the sheep disappeared from a field in Chipping there was a report in The Farmers Guardian which raised the suspicions of a witness in County Durham.