Farmer fined £4,000 after DNA used for first time to prove cow was stolen
A farmer has been fined £4,000 after DNA evidence was used to prove he had stolen his neighbour’s cow, police have said.
David Owens, 51, had re-tagged the £3,000 heifer and claimed it as his own after it escaped from a neighbouring field in St Clears, Carmarthenshire.
Dyfed-Powys Police said it has become the first police force in the UK to use DNA evidence from a stolen cow in a resulting criminal court case at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, which saw Owens plead guilty to theft.
The cow’s real owner reported one of his 300 cows had been stolen in December 2017 after spotting it on Owens’s field, despite the farmer denying he had seen it.
Owens provided police with a cow passport, listing ear tag numbers for the cow and the animal Mr Owens claimed was its mother.
A warrant was issued for the cow and blood samples taken from it were successfully matched with other cows from its original farm, and Owens was charged.
During the investigation, Owens started proceedings against the police force over the way blood samples were taken from the cow without his permission, but a judicial review found it was lawful in doing so.
PC Gareth Jones, the officer who took charge of the case, said his force was “proud” of its achievement and vowed to continue using “innovative methods” to get justice.
He said: “This has been a long and protracted enquiry, and it has taken a lot of work and patience to get to this point.
“Without the use of the heifer’s DNA, we would not have been able to prove that it had been stolen by Mr Owens, and that he had tried to alter identification tags to evade prosecution.
“We are proud to be the first force in the UK to use a cow’s DNA in a criminal case, and will continue to use innovative methods to get justice for victims.”
Owens, of Salem Road, St Clears, was fined £4,000 fine and told to pay £400 costs.