DNA evidence proves farmer stole neighbour's cow and is fined £4,000

A real MOO done it! Farmer is fined £4,000 after DNA evidence proved he stole neighbour’s escaped cow and re-tagged it as one of his own herd

  • David Owens, 51, re-tagged the £3,000 animal and claimed it was his own 
  • One of owner’s 300 cows went missing in Dec 2017 and saw it in Owen’s field
  • First case in UK history to use DNA evidence to prove a cow was stolen  

A farmer has been fined £4,000 after DNA evidence proved he stole his neighbour’s cow.

David Owens, 51, re-tagged the £3,000 farm animal and tried to pass it off as his own after it escaped from a nearby field in St Clears, Carmarthenshire. 

The cow’s real owner reported one of his herd missing in December 2017 after spotting it in his neighbour’s field. 

He denied he had seen it, but for the first time ever in UK history, police used the animal’s DNA to prove it had been stolen.  

Owens provided police with a cow passport, listing ear tag numbers for the cow and the animal Owens claimed was its mother.

A warrant was issued for the cow and blood samples taken from it were successfully matched with other cows from its original farm and the 51-year-old was charged.

Owens pleaded guilty to theft after a criminal case at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, with Dyfed-Powys Police claiming they are now the first force to use technology to bring someone to justice over a stolen animal.  

David Owens, 51, (pictured) re-tagged the £3,000 cow and tried to pass it off as his own after it escaped from a nearby field in St Clears, Carmarthenshire

During the investigation, Owens started proceedings against the police force over the way blood samples were taken from the cow without his permission, but a judicial review found it was lawful in doing so.

PC Gareth Jones, the officer who took charge of the case, said his force was ‘proud’ of its achievement and vowed to continue using ‘innovative methods’ to get justice.

He said: ‘This has been a long and protracted enquiry, and it has taken a lot of work and patience to get to this point.


The stolen cow’s (left) real owner reported one of his herd missing in December 2017 after spotting it in his neighbour’s field. A warrant was issued for the cow and blood samples taken from it were successfully matched with other cows (one pictured right) from its original farm, and the 51-year-old was charged

PC Gareth Jones (pictured), the officer who took charge of the case, said his force was ‘proud’ of its achievement and vowed to continue using ‘innovative methods’ to get justice.

‘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.’

Owens, of St Clears, was fined £4,000 fine and told to pay £400 costs.

Cows are pictured on the farm in St Clears, Carmarthenshire, Wales 

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