Two police officers have been sentenced after admitting to beating porcupines to death on multiple occasions while on duty.

Addison Cox, 28, from Warren in Maine, will spend 10 days in jail – weekends only – while his former colleague Michael A Rolerson, 31, will be behind bars for 20 days. Both were also fined $1,000 (£726).

Roberson confessed to killing eight porcupines, while Cox admitted clubbing three to death with his police baton.

The offences came to light after Rolerson bragged about the killings to other officers.

Rolerson told colleagues that he would sometimes pepper spray the porcupines while beating them.

One officer, after hearing Rolerson boast about clubbing a porcupine, drove to the location where the attack had occurred and found the animal in the road, still clinging on to life.

The officer considered putting the animal out of its misery, but "wasn’t sure if he should".

Another officer told the investigators that he was on duty with Rolerson when he suddenly slammed on the brakes, jumped out of the patrol car, and began savagely beating a porcupine.

The unnamed officer "didn’t know what to do" and allowed the killing to continue.

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Rolerson claimed he had killed the animals because he thought they would be a "nuisance", either to road users or on campsites.

When questioned, Cox told investigators that he looked up to his partner and wanted to be like him.

Natasha Irving, District Attorney for Maine's Sixth Prosecutorial District, told reporters that the accused men’s charges had been reduced to misdemeanours because both men were military veterans who had served in combat zones.

"That was a mitigating factor, that they both experienced war zones," she said.

"Ultimately I want them never to hurt another living thing again. I think that addressing the mental health component, I think that’s a really important part of it."

Rolerson has had to forfeit his Maine Criminal Justice Academy Credentials permanently, meaning he can no longer work as a police officer in the state, but Cox can apply for law enforcement work again in six months.

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