An Otago man who told police he thought "lamb chops on the barbecue would be nice" has been convicted of wilfully ill-treating two sheep he killed at a farm on Christmas Day.

Jeremy Phillip Clark, 40, unemployed, acknowledged having killed the two lambs at a Merton farm but claimed the animals both died quickly and had not been caused any unnecessary pain and distress.

In his decision in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, Judge John Macdonald said he accepted the evidence of experienced veterinarian John Keenan, who told the court on Monday his examination of the two slaughtered animals led him to believe they had died from shock from blood loss.

Dr Keenan described the killing of the sheep as a "protracted, inhumane event, given the carotid artery was not severed". He believed the animals would have taken two to three minutes to die and would have been conscious and experiencing pain for about half of that time.


The knife involved, essentially, a blunt steak knife, had been used in a backwards and forwards sawing motion, and also to inflict some stab wounds to the neck.

In his decision, Judge Macdonald concluded Clark "didn't know what he was doing" and was incapable of killing the sheep quickly using the particular knife.

It was too blunt and used in "a haphazard, hit and miss" way to strike a number of blows.

While it was perhaps unintended, Clark must have appreciated what he was doing was likely to cause unnecessary pain and distress to the sheep, the judge said, finding proved both charges against Clark.

Clark was remanded on bail for sentence on August 9.