TWO rampaging dogs which left a trail of death as they attacked sheep in farmer’s fields in Rishton had to be destroyed by police marksmen, a court heard.

Blackburn magistrates were told a total of 11 sheep were killed as the Japanese Akitas, also known as Japanese Fighting dogs, turned savage.

A police officer who tried to chase the dogs away was left in fear for his own safety when they turned towards him baring their teeth and growling, prosecutors said.

The court was told the owner of the dogs had previously been warned about the security of his fence after the dogs escaped and killed a neighbour’s cat in Burton Street, Rishton where he was living at the time.

Jason Sleddon, 23, now of Sparth Road, Clayton-le-Moors, pleaded guilty to being the owner of dogs dangerously out of control.

He was made subject to community supervision for 12 months, ordered to do 250 hours unpaid work and pay £1,952 in compensation to the two farmers.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said police received reports of dogs chasing sheep near the Leeds and Liverpool canal at Cut Lane in Rishton.

PC Simon Grounds, who was first on the scene, saw the dogs attacking and killing sheep, magistrates were told.

Prosecutors said he followed them up the hill towards Tanhouse Farm where he saw them kill more sheep and attack and chase others.

PC Grounds requested the attendance of firearms officers as he continued to follow the dogs, the court heard.

Prosecutors said at one stage he approached the dogs and tried to chase them away from the sheep but they became aggressive towards him, snarling and growling at him.

The officer had to back off and during the time he was waiting for support saw the dogs kill two more sheep, the court was told.

Magistrates heard the attacks happened in February and both farmers who lost sheep said the ewes were pregnant and many more could have died or lost lambs as a result of the attacks.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said Sleddon had done everything he could to make his back yard secure.

The dog warden had recommended a solid fence but Sleddon had not been able to afford the type of fence suggested.

“He put up a wire fence as a temporary measure but somehow the dogs have managed to get under it,” said Mr Taylor. “He had gone looking for the dogs but they had strayed away from his home and as you have heard attacked the sheep.”