A man and a woman have been charged with causing unnecessary cruelty to an animal after they allegedly cut off a sheep's head and showed it to children.

Robert Carr, aged 28 and Miranda Clark, 39, both from Willington, Co Durham, were arrested following reports that a sheep's head had been left in the back yard.

Officers discovered the rest of the decapitated carcass in a nearby farmer's field. It was taken to a vet who said that the animal had been mutilated before it died.

A Durham Police spokesman said: "Police can confirm they are investigating claims the sheep's head was shown to a number of young children before it was left in the rear yard."

Carr and Clark will appear before Peterlee magistrates charged with unnecessary cruelty to an animal, possession of a bladed article and criminal damage.

Three young children, a girl and two boys from the address where the pair were arrested, were taken into the care of social services. Several knives were also seized from the house and a Staffordshire bull terrier was removed and taken to kennels.