Three teenagers accused of the savage attack, torture and killing of a sheep come from well-to-do Auckland families.
Blake John Kerridge, Mitchell Anthony Herbert and Matthew Ludolph, all 17, were arrested at Mt Maunganui on Tuesday night after allegedly beating a sheep and blowing off its jaw with fireworks the night before.
All three teenagers pleaded not guilty to charges of cruelty to an animal and disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence to occur. They entered no plea to a further charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, namely fireworks. Kerridge also faced a charge of wilful damage, to which he pleaded guilty.
All three teenagers live at home with their parents in affluent suburbs in and near Auckland.
Kerridge works as a furniture assembler, Herbert is an electrician and Ludolph a boat builder.
Herbert's father Richard is the director of accounting firm Richard Herbert & Associates and a former director of Ernst & Young. He and wife Susan Herbert are also shareholders in the exclusive Lakes Resort at Pauanui.
The family live in a mansion in Coatesville, north of Auckland. According to QV, the 2ha lifestyle block is worth around $2 million.
Ludolph's parents Philip and Raewyn own game boat-building business Ludolph Marine. They live in a $800,000 multi-storey home with sea views on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
Kerridge also lives in a luxury two-storey home, valued at $1.25 million, in Campbells Bay on the North Shore.
Before the alleged attack the trio were staying at a camping ground at the base of Mt Maunganui.
They told police they had been there on holiday and had been drinking on the night the sheep was allegedly attacked. Police allege the teenagers were on a track at the base of the Mount about 9pm on Monday.
They allege the trio came across the sheep, one of several hundred which graze on the Mount, and dragged it into the centre of a walking track.
The police summary of facts states Kerridge, Herbert and Ludolph savagely kicked and beat the sheep with a stick and then threw fireworks at it before placing one in its mouth and lighting it. A couple out walking saw the alleged attack and called police.
Police found the dead sheep soon after and said it was clear attempts had been made to set it alight. The sheep's abdomen was also cut open.
Defence lawyer Glenn Dixon requested a copy of any post mortem tests carried out on the sheep.
However, the carcass was disposed of before police were able to conduct any forensic examinations.
Dixon said the teenagers were certain they did not kill the sheep.
They told Dixon the sheep was dead when they found it in a drain.
They thought it had fallen about 10-15m from a bluff. Kerridge told the Bay of Plenty Times the situation had been blown out of proportion and the police had the story wrong.
"We did not kick or beat the sheep or blow off its jaw. We didn't kill it, it was already dead when we found it," he said.
"We think it must have fallen off the cliff. It's a huge drop and maybe its stomach got caught on something on the way down."
Kerridge said the boys poked at the sheep with a stick a couple of times to see if it was alive.
They then dragged the animal on to the track where the light was better and poked it again to confirm it was dead. After they walked off they remembered they had some fireworks in their pockets - the "spinning and fizzy ones" which "don't blow up" things according to Kerridge - and started throwing them at the sheep.
Kerridge said he and the others realised their actions were stupid and were upset about the police allegations.
"I'm pretty pissed off ... at both [media and police] saying things we didn't do," said Ludolph, who refused to make any further comment.
Richard Herbert said the family was "obviously" affected by the charges.
Susan Herbert said she was angry about the media "twisting" what had happened, but refused to elaborate further.
Mt Maunganui park ranger Mark Ray said in the three years he had been in his role, no stock had died. "A lot of our lambs and hoggets are sold off - they are all healthy at the Mount," he said.
The trio have been remanded on bail to reappear on June 14. Their only bail condition was that they did not associate with each other.
Little dog's violent death
A 19-year-old man is to face court after allegedly taking 40 minutes to kill a Jack Russell in a garden shed. The Dunedin supermarket worker faces a charge of wilful ill-treatment after the alleged attack on February 1.
Otago SPCA inspector Steph Saunders said the man had been at a friend's house drinking when Diesel, the 18-month-old Jack Russell, bit a visiting child.
"There were about eight 10 and 11-year-olds at the property on the day ...
"From what I can gather the dog had been teased by neighbourhood children, one had put a vacuum cleaner hose on his testicles and they would scream into his ears. The little dog was just trying to defend himself."
The accused is alleged to have taken the dog to the shed where he tried to strangle it. When that didn't work, he used a chain and his foot and then tried pouring petrol down its throat. He then allegedly used a spade.
March 2009 Peter James Cooksley, of Manurewa, is fined $500 and costs of $1018 for wilfully ill treating an animal. He used a crossbow to fatally injure a cat.
October 2008 A cat is found nailed to a Tauranga street sign. A 14-year-old boy was charged with wilful ill-treatment of an animal in January.
September 2008 John Naime, of Manurewa, is banned from owning an animal for five years after his dog was found emaciated and barely able to walk.
June 2008 Te Anau man Graeme Peter Spittle is fined $1000 and ordered to pay reparation of $2315 for killing his neighbour's dog by throwing it from a tree.
June 2007 Manoj Kumar, of Avondale, is fined $1652 in reparation after leaving three goats hog-tied in their urine and faeces.By Anna Leask