A Haywards Heath couple have been convicted of stealing a tortoise from a family-run farm near Lewes, police said.
Morgan Paine, 29, and Sasha Harris, 29, of Bentswood Road, Haywards Heath, were convicted of the theft at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, January 10, police said.
The couple, who are both unemployed, were each fined £80, had £195 deducted from their benefits, and were required to pay £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
Fergie, a two-year-old Hermann’s tortoise, was taken from his pen at Blackberry Farm Park in Whitesmith, near Lewes, on Saturday, September 8.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Images of the two suspects were circulated on social media, generating a huge amount of public engagement, and the investigation was dealt with slow time.
“Following the social media appeal, Harris contacted police and said her partner Paine had been dared by their daughter to steal the tortoise.
“Fergie was then returned to the farm on Tuesday, September 11, where he was reunited with his companion Dexter.”
Police said the couple voluntarily attended Lewes Police Station for an interview on December 15, and were subsequently summoned to appear in court for the offence.
A spokesman added: “The owners of Blackberry Farm Park wished to thank the public for their support, and are pleased to report Fergie is healthy and happy.”