A farmer has been sentenced to more that three years in jail for stealing sheep from a neighbouring farm and selling them at auction.

Robert Martin Birnie, 46, from Sunny Rigg, Longtown was handed the three years and nine months at Carlisle Crown Court on Monday 13th January for theft and witness intimidation.

He was found guilty on 2nd December 2013 after trial.

In 2012 Birnie stole sheep valued at £8,237 from a neighbouring farm and sold them at a number of auctions across Cumbria.

On Tuesday 2nd July, Birnie attended Carlisle Crown Court, but the case was adjourned. Later that day, Birnie went to the home address of a key witness and intimidated the witness and their family. He was charged with this offence on 9th July 2013.

“What Birnie did was dishonest to the whole farming community. There is a level of respect between farmers and to take sheep that knowingly does not belong to you and sell them as your own is despicable. “To intimidate any witness is not tolerated and in this case the victim had the strength to continue with the case and see Birnie brought to justice.”