A father and son have been given jail sentences for hunting wild animals with a crossbow.

Robert Mepham, 50, and Sam Mepham, 22, hunted deer and duck using the deadly weapon and then stashed their illegal kills at the family home.

The two men, from Lakedown House, Broad Oak, Heathfield, were arrested alongside three other men last December in dawn-raids involving more than 50 police officers.

Police found severed heads of deer and dead pheasants and ducks hanging in lock-up facilities during the raids.

Sam Mepham was jailed for 150 hours and ordered to forfeit firearms, crossbows and ammunition after being found guilty of killing a deer with a crossbow.

His father was found guilty of four counts of using a crossbow to kill a wild animal, possession of a dead mandarin duck and possession of ammunition without a certificate.

He was sentenced to 90 days' imprisonment, suspended for two years, 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to forfeit the duck.

A third man Glyn Carley, 48, of Standard Hill Close, Ninfield, pleaded guilty to possessing ammunition for a firearm without a certificate, failing to comply with a condition of a firearm certificate (poor storage of ammunition) and possessing five mandarin ducks.

He was sentenced to two terms of 30 days' imprisonment to run concurrently suspended for two years, 200 hours of unpaid work, £150 costs and ordered to forfeit ammunitions and the ducks.

The two other men arrested on the same day on suspicion of offences under the Deer Act, a 63-year-old from Brightling and a 74-year-old from Mountfield, both received cautions.

A video issued by Sussex Police showing the animals the men had slaughtered was too gruesome for The Argus to show.

Det Insp Ian Williams who led the investigation said: “It is difficult to bring offenders involved in wildlife crime to justice and to do so in this case has attracted a great deal of support from the local community.

“The storage and use of firearms and crossbows is not something to be taken lightly given the potential harm that weapons can cause in the wrong hands or when misused.”