No charges in Ngapara

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Thursday, April 2

Police believe they know which dogs were responsible for the death of more than 200 sheep in Ngapara in June last year and steps have been taken to ensure it will not happen again.

On Tuesday, Oamaru Police announced they had completed their investigation into the deaths of 215 sheep on two Ngapara farms over consecutive weekends in June last year.

About 195 sheep were killed on Peter and Janine Stackhouse’s farm on Conlans Rd in the first incident on June 21-22 and 20 more were killed on John and Wendy Dodd’s nearby farm on Dodds Rd on the weekend of June 28-29.

At first, police thought the sheep had been shot but the investigation, which included firearm testing and forensic testing in Australia, concluded that the sheep were killed by dogs.

Otago Coastal Area Commander Inspector Jason Guthrie said a forensic veterinarian’s examination of four of the sheep’s heads found the injuries were caused by a crushing motion consistent with a dog bite.

Police believed two dogs had managed to escape their enclosure, he said.

However, no charges could be laid as police were unable to link the dogs to the incidents despite swabs being sent to Australia for DNA profiling, Inspector Guthrie said.

The forensic testing in Australia returned inconclusive results and, after legal advice, police had decided not to prosecute anyone in relation to the killings.

“We believe it is likely that it was the two dogs that were roaming,” he said.

Police have spoken to the owners of the dogs, who live in the Ngapara area, and measures have been taken to ensure the enclosures are secure, he said.

“They were horrified at the notion that their dogs were responsible for the deaths of the animals.”

No more problems with those dogs or others in the area had been reported to police but it was important that everyone kept their dogs secure to keep stock and young children safe, Insp Guthrie said.

Initially police were concerned firearms were involved but they found no shell casings, metal fragments or gunpowder residue and received no reports of gun shots.

“All of that convinced us to conclude no firearms were involved.”

Firearm testing had been done in the area and gunshots could be heard clearly from nearby houses so it was unlikely that 215 sheep were shot with no gunshots being heard, he said.

Inspector Guthrie said he was acutely aware of the upset the incidents had caused in Ngapara and for that reason police had undertaken a thorough investigation.

However, Mr Stackhouse, who lost 195 sheep, said there was no conclusive evidence that it was dogs that caused the deaths.

“The police haven’t proved anything.”

It has been made to sound like it has been proved it was dogs but the forensic tests came back inconclusive, he said.

Mr Stackhouse said had no idea what had happened to the sheep and if it was dogs, whose were they and why did they only come out at the weekend?

PHOTO: FILE  – Janine and Peter Stackhouse at their Ngapara farm where 195 sheep were killed in June last year. Mr Stackhouse says “the police haven’t proved anything”.