An uncle and his nephew admitted dumping the carcass of a dead dog in a field in Draperstown Co. Derry to make it look as if the dog had been legally shot for sheep- worrying.
Brian McEldowney (56) from Five Mile Straight in Draperstown pleaded guilty to shooting Buster, a four year-old border collie cross beagle.
He also admitted entering as a trespasser the byre in which he shot the dog and possessing a shotgun with intent to endanger life.
His 37-year-old nephew Gerald McEldowney, a hill farmer from Cloane Road in Draperstown, admitted removing the destroyed dog to impede the apprehension of his uncle Brian.
Both men are to be sentenced at the Crown Court in Derry on Thursday.
A Public Prosecution Service barrister told Judge Philip Babington yesterday that the dog belonged to neighbours of Gerald McEldowney.
Its owners, the McGuigan family, described Buster as "a great family pet, and a lovely dog".
The defendants believed the dog had been responsible for a number of sheep worrying incidents on Gerald McEldowney's farm.
On the evening of March 31, 2016, the dog got loose from its owner's farmyard and ran into Gerald McEldowney's adjoining field.
It returned 10 minutes later followed by an angry Brian McEldowney who drove into the farmyard on a quad shouting "where is the dog?" before he hit it on the head with a stick.
The dog's owner, Attracta McGuigan, put Buster into a byre before going to collect her son from work.
She left her two daughters, one of them aged 15, in the house.
Shortly after Mrs McGuigan had left, the 15 year-old daughter saw the two defendants and a third man in the farmyard outside her home.
"The defendant Brian McEldowney was seen by her carrying a shotgun," the prosecutor told the court.
"He opened the byre door and he went in and the daughter heard two bangs. She came running out of the house and saw the third man hosing blood away from the byre.
"She saw Gerald McEldowney tying a blue rope around the dog's legs and then pulling the dog by its legs. The dog was then lifted by him over a gate and put into a field as if to make the shooting of the dog legal for sheep-worrying."
Three days later the dog's carcass was thrown into a second field by Brian McEldowney, again to make it look as if it had been legally shot for sheep worrying.
The carcass was recovered by the police following a complaint from the McGuigan family and a post mortem examination stated it had died from a gunshot wound to the neck.
Defence barristers told Judge Babington the uncle and nephew both apologised to the McGuigan family for their actions.
They said the defendants believed the dog was responsible for sheep worrying on Gerald McEldowney's hill farm, thereby putting him under financial pressure.
The barristers said the defendants and the McGuigan family lived cheek by jowl in the countryside and the McEldowney's were mindful of the immediate and long-term trauma they had caused to the McGuigans.
Judge Babington released the defendants on continuing bail and said he would sentence them on Thursday.