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Farmer’s relief as 20 stolen sheep ‘mysteriously reappear’

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Farmer’s relief as 20 stolen sheep ‘mysteriously reappear’ thumbnailPaul Magowan’s herd with the blue markings.

A HILLTOWN sheep farmer who lost half his flock in a Christmas morning theft says 20 have "mysteriously reappeared".

The theft came just a number of weeks after a Rathfriland farmer was left "feeling sick" after sheep rustlers targeted his flock twice in a fortnight.

Hilltown farmer Paul Magowan (pictured right) publicly appealed for the safe recovery of his animals and offered a reward for information leading to their return.

And earlier this morning (Tuesday) Mr Magowan confirmed that 20 of the animals "mysteriously reappeared" at the end of the road.

Four are still missing including one heavily in lamb and he remains "very concerned" about that ewe. The returned sheep are in good health bar one having a small mark on his flesh possibly from barbed wire.

“I'm very relieved. I'm holding out hope that other four appear but 20 is better than none."

Mr Magowan spoke to The Outlook about his "devastating" discovery on Christmas morning.

He said: "I checked the sheep on Christmas Eve and everything was fine and that was around 12.30am.

“I woke up on Christmas morning and the children were opening their presents, it would have been around 11am before I headed over to check them at Tamary Hill Road, Drumlough."

When Mr Magowan arrived at the field he noticed there were three of his ewes in nearby land.

“Initially I had thought they had gotten out and someone had put them in there.

“Then I noticed there was a smaller amount but they were all gathered up in one place.

“I thought that was a bit odd. I went walking round the field and there was no sign of the rest of them.

“I noticed they had been gathered up in a corner and the other three had been forced out through the hole at the gate and that's why they had been on the road," he said.

Mr Magowan said his sheep were left terrified by their ordeal.

Twenty three ewe in lamb and one Llynn ram were stolen out of the flock of 40.

He added: "This is the first time something like this has happened and it is going to affect my livelihood next year if I don't get them back.

“They were from years of breeding and my father kept the sheep. He died six years ago, this was for me to carry on.

“I feel numb and devastated by what has happened and with the ewes heavy in lamb the stress of being stolen is not going to do them any good."

Mr Magowan says his remaining sheep are now acting differently.

“Whenever I went into the field, they all used to run to me but now they are all on edge and won't come near me.

“They are all just terrified and on edge. It was heartbreaking on Christmas morning to wake up to this."

Mr Magowan has thanked everyone for their support after a post he put on Facebook appealing for information was shared thousands of times.

“I have received so much support from all over the country including from Northern Ireland, Scotland and England and it's fantastic.

“I am very grateful for everyone who has offered their support and overwhelmed by it."

Mr Magowan says his ewes can be identified by blue markings on the middle of their back, back of their head and also on their rump.

According to Mr Magowan, there will be a reward if any information leads to the safe recovery of his sheep.

If you have any information about the four sheep still missing, Mr Magowan has asked readers to contact police or himself on 07751281911.

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