Some animal-related unpleasantness to report from Geordieland, I'm afraid.
Bill Quay is a pleasant little community just north of Hebburn and just south of Wardley, the nearest large town being Gateshead. Driving through Bill Quay, one of the pleasing sights to greet one's eyes is that of horses ambling in fields; a touch of rurality in an area renowned for its industry.
But then Sunday came along and things changed.
Mark Taylor and Lawrence March owned three horses between them. Lawrence was the proud owner of two gypsy cobs; Mark, a seven month-old foal named Jacko. All three had the run of a field just off Wardley Lane. On Sunday morning the men went to the adjacent stables to visit the horses and were devastated at what they found. The two cobs had been attacked, their manes and tails cut off.
Superficially, the incident seemed to be a simple case of animal cruelty: some wack-job attacks horses; end of story. But it's actually a little more complicated than that. The police believe that the horses must have been chased before being assaulted, which tends to mitigate against the idea that this was simply a random act of violence carried out on the spur of the moment. Whoever did this was determined and went about their vile business at some considerable risk. Not only is the field near a busy road, but it is also only yards away from Hebburn Fire Station. (1)
The incident caused a furore in the neighbourhood, naturally. But things were to take on an even more sinister hue. Taylor and March discovered the plight of the two horses on Sunday morning. The following day they went to check on the horses again, only to find that Mark Taylor's foal, Jacko, had been killed. The perpetrators had struck on two successive nights and managed to carry out the attacks without being seen or heard on either.
The way in which the foal was dispatched was sickening. Its neck had been twisted 180° - “like the girl on the Exorcist”, said Taylor (2) – and the two men were left wondering what on earth had made their horses the target off such wanton cruelty.
There is, as far as I can see, nothing that explicitly points to this being anything other than the actions of a twisted personality with a hatred of horses; or perhaps I should say personalities, in the plural, as it is unlikely that one individual could have been responsible for the first attack involving two gypsy cobs.
But you never can tell. Animal mutilation, but not of the extraterrestrial kind. The work of cultists? Or just sick bastards? Hopefully they'll be arrested, and then we'll find out.
1) The Shields Gazette, Thursday, January 6, 2011.
2) The Evening Chronicle, Thursday, January 6, 2011.