Four men accused of driving around Hastings in an old Ford Laser hatchback with 11 stolen lambs have appeared in court.
Gino Butler, 21, Raniera Nathan, 35, Healy Te Are-Paul, 22, and Nicholas Fido, 21, appeared in Hastings District Court this morning on charges of cruelty to animals.
Another charge of theft has been upgraded by police to burglary, meaning the maximum possible sentence rises from one year to 10 years.
The men are alleged to have been caught by police who found them driving through Hastings at 1am last Wednesday with the hog-tied lambs in the back of the 1994 Ford Laser. Police said the animals were lucky to be alive.
The men did not enter pleas and were remanded on bail until next month.
The lambs, valued at $880, were taken from a property at Bridge Pa and belonged to Idea Services, an arm of IHC that provides services to the intellectually disabled.
The lambs were part of a flock of about 25 sheep the organisation had at the property.
In a similar incident in Hastings three years ago, four men were caught with 14 sheep forced into the boot and back seat of a Mazda 626. Two of the sheep had suffocated.
Two of the men were given jail sentences, one was sentenced to home detention and 100 hours' community work, and a fourth was dealt with by Youth Services.
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