Two students have been arrested after a sheep was killed on the South Downs.

The incident, which happened near Ditchling Beacon, is believed to have occurred on November 2.

Local farmer Michael Lunn said he was unable to provide detail given the active police investigation but said a “serious and sick” incident took place.

He previously told SussexWorld the sheep was grazing on the Downs when it was picked up and kicked in the head. He said: "It was the most horrific example of animal cruelty.

"It was still alive. Then [the perpetrators] split it open, stuck a rookie inside and blew it up."

Rookies are firecrackers used by farmers to scare rooks.

READ MORE: Brighton man arrested on suspicion of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal

Following the incident, four students at Plumpton College have been suspended while a police investigation takes place.

Two of the students, men aged 20 and 18, were arrested on suspicion of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and criminal damage.

The pair, both from Kent, have been released on conditional bail while police enquiries continue.

Two other individuals linked to the investigation are currently being treated as significant witnesses.

Superintendent Rachel Swinney said: “A thorough investigation is underway into this disturbing report, which we are treating extremely seriously.

“We have engaged with the college, which has suspended all four students, and it is fully supporting our investigation.

“We have also engaged with the owner of the sheep, local farmers and the wider community to provide reassurance and advice.

“Anyone with information that could help with the investigation can contact police online or via 101, quoting Op Chelmsford.”

Plumpton College confirmed it was aware of a “disturbing” incident involving four students and that any permanent sanction issued would be determined in due course.

The college stressed that the incident is unrelated to any form of college activity and occurred off-site, outside of college hours.

Principal Jeremy Kerswell said: “I am appalled by this incident, which in no way represents the high standards of behaviour we expect of our students nor the standards we hold so dear with regards to animal welfare.

“I know that our staff and student body are shocked and saddened to hear of this allegation from within our college community and it is completely unrepresentative of our culture and values. Please be assured that I have, and I will continue to take suitable action with the students involved at the appropriate time.”