Couple convicted of stealing tortoise from family-run farm

Two people have been convicted of stealing a tortoise from a family-run farm.

Fergie, a two-year-old Hermann’s tortoise, was taken from his pen at Blackberry Farm Park in Whitesmith, near Lewes, on Saturday 8 September.

Images of the two suspects were circulated on social media, generating a huge amount of public engagement, and the investigation was dealt with slow time.

The couple were identified as Morgan Paine, 29, unemployed, and Sasha Harris, 29, unemployed, both of Bentswood Road, Haywards Heath.

Following the social media appeal, Harris contacted police and said her partner Paine had been dared by their daughter to steal the tortoise.

Fergie was then returned to the farm on Tuesday 11 September, where he was reunited with his companion Dexter.

The defendants voluntarily attended Lewes Police Station for interview on 15 December and were subsequently summonsed to appear in court for the offence of theft.

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 10 January, they were each fined £80, had £195 deducted from benefits, and were required to pay £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

The owners of Blackberry Farm Park wished to thank the public for their support, and are pleased to report Fergie is healthy and happy.