FOUR Hampshire teenagers who inflicted "truly shocking" injuries on sheep have been punished by the courts.

One of the police officers involved in the investigation said it was the worst case of animal cruelty committed by children she had ever come across.

Bricks were thrown at sheep grazing in Alver Valley Nature Reserve, Gosport, earlier this year.

In a separate incident some of the animals also had their horns snapped off while others suffered serious eye injuries.

One of the sheep targeted by the hooligans lost an eye and all were visibly shaking and panting when police arrived.

Four teenagers, including one from the New Forest, appeared at Portsmouth Youth Court charged with causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

A 14-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl - both from Gosport - were handed 12-month referral orders.

A 13-year-old boy from Gosport received a nine-month extension to a current three-month referral order.

A 14-year-old boy from Holbury was handed a 12-month youth rehabilitation order.

The teenagers, who cannot be named because of their age, were each ordered to pay £85 compensation, plus £85 in costs.

Following the hearing Police Staff Investigator Anna Presswell, from Hampshire Constabulary's Country Watch Team, said: “These incidents were truly shocking. It was the most severe case of cruelty caused by children to animals I have seen.

“What struck me most was the effect it had on the officers and staff involved. All were equally appalled by what they had come across.

“The animals were seriously hurt, with one losing its eye, and all were visibly shaking and panting when police arrived.

“I am pleased this case has now concluded and hope this sends a message to anyone in the community about the consequences of animal cruelty.”