A farmer from Carmarthenshire has been ordered to pay almost £4,500 after stealing a cow - after police proved the theft using the heifer’s DNA.

David Aeron Owens, of Salem Road, St Clears, at first denied that a missing cow that had escaped from a neighbouring field was on his land.

The cow, worth £3,000, had been retagged by Owens after it had been reported stolen in December 2017.

When visited by police, Owens produced a cow passport, listing ear tag numbers for the cow in question and the animal that he claimed was its mother.

However, after police secured a warrant in order to obtain a DNA sample, it was proved that the stolen animal was not, in fact, related to that cow. 

Further samples were then compared to those taken from cows on the victim’s field.

These tests proved a familial link between the animals and therefore meant that Dyfed-Powys Police is the first police force in the UK to use DNA evidence from a stolen cow in a criminal case.

PC Gareth Jones of Dyfed-Powys Police officer in case, said: “What this case shows us is that where the farming community works with the police, reporting crimes and providing us with vital information, we can be successful in taking out prosecutions.

"In committing these offences, he has played a part in breaking down that trust, which will be difficult to build back up.”

PC Gareth Jones obtained a warrant so that DNA samples could be taken from the cow

During the investigation, Owens started his own proceedings against Dyfed-Powys Police over the way samples were taken from the cow as he had not been willing for this to happen.

However, a judicial review found the force was lawful in obtaining the samples.

Owens, aged 52, appeared at Swansea Crown Court and pleaded guilty to theft.

He was ordered to pay a £4,000 fine and costs of £400.

PC Jones added: “This has been a long and protracted inquiry, and it has taken a lot of work and patience to get to this point.

“Without the use of the heifer’s DNA we would not have been able to prove that it had been stolen by Mr Owens, and that he had tried to alter identification tags to evade prosecution.

“We are proud to be the first force in the UK to use a cow’s DNA in a criminal case, and will continue to use innovative methods to get justice for victims.

“I must thank the victim in this case for the determination shown in wanting to see justice being done. It has been a long investigation, but we hope he is satisfied with the outcome.”