Two agricultural students have been arrested after a sheep was allegedly blown up by a firework while it was still alive, in what has been described as a “disturbing” incident.
Four students from Plumpton College, West Sussex, have been suspended following the incident on 2 November near Ditchling Beacon, while a police investigation remains ongoing.
Two students, aged 18 and 20, have been arrested on suspicion of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and criminal damage and have been released on conditional bail.
The college has now permanently excluded the suspects, while the other two pupils have been withdrawn from their course “in order to safeguard student welfare and to preserve the integrity of the police investigation”.
In a statement on social media, Plumpton College confirmed that the incident was not related to college activity and occurred off-campus.
Principal Jeremy Kerswell said: “We remain appalled by this incident and saddened by the impact that this has had on our other students, our staff and the wider community.
“We have always understood and mirrored the depth of feelings triggered by this incident which in no way represents our values and the high standards that we strive to achieve on a daily basis.
“Our thanks go to those who have supported us during this difficult time; we will of course reflect and learn from this experience and do all that we can to continue to educate our students in exemplary practices in animal welfare.”
Superintendent Rachel Swinney of Sussex Police said: “A thorough investigation is underway into this disturbing report, which we are treating extremely seriously.
“We have engaged with the college, which has taken its own internal disciplinary measures and is fully supporting our investigation.
“We have also engaged with the owner of the sheep, local farmers and the wider community to provide reassurance and advice.
“Anyone with information that could help with the investigation can contact police online or via 101, quoting Op Chelmsford.”