A FARMER accusing dog walkers of “animal cruelty” after he says dozens of his sheep were killed has himself been convicted of “appalling” animal neglect.

Tim Armour herds sheep on Telscombe Tye, where he is also deputy mayor and sits on the town council.

He claims dozens of ewes and lambs were killed by dog attacks last year in what he describes as “animal cruelty”.

Now he is campaigning for tougher restrictions of dog walkers on the Tye.

But it has since emerged that he was convicted of 15 counts of neglecting livestock in 2001 in “one of the worst cases” an RSPCA officer had ever seen.

The animal charity said it found emaciated sheep and under-fed pigs with maggots eating some of the animals alive.

Cllr Armour says he lost 31 ewes and about 50 lambs to dog attacks last year and is using the shocking figurers to push for tighter dog controls. But a group of dogwalkers called The Guardians Of The Tye have questioned the numbers.

They are fighting the plans for a public space protection order which would restrict their freedom to exercise their pets on the public land.

Cllr Armour sits on the Telscombe Town Council’s policy and resources committee, which has asked Lewes District Council to approve the order.

A spokeswoman from the dog walkers’ group said: “The issue has angered an awful lot of residents in the Saltdean and Telscombe Cliffs area. Local people have said for years it’s a total conflict of interest he’s a farmer with his own sheep on the Tye and the community flock and a councillor as well.

“There are numerous other reasons to explain sheep deaths on the Tye. These include fox attacks, lack of water and shade provided in hot weather and general poor flock husbandry by the farmer.”

Cllr Armour, who herds his own sheep on the Tye, plus a 100-strong community flock, said: “We’re talking about animal cruelty here – these dogs are attacking and killing sheep.

"I was never banned from keeping animals as the judge was sympathetic to the case.

"I’m not being hypocritical by calling the sheep worrying situation animal cruelty as this is a different situation altogether.

"This is about people who are exercising their dogs and letting them kill sheep.”

The proposed order could see owners required to keep pets on a short leash on the Tye or face a £1,000 fine. A public consultation on the exact terms is due to start tomorrow.