Police warn of copycat horse attacks

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The Independent Online
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MEDIA coverage of a series of sadistic assaults on horses has led to a number of copycat attacks, police said yesterday.

As a senior officer took over the investigation into about 30 attacks - mostly in Hampshire - police said several individuals or groups were responsible.

'These attacks have been carried out by a number of different persons. It is also clear that some of the attacks are copycat crimes,' a Hampshire Police spokesman said. Many of the assaults appear to have a sexual motive. Mountbatten, an Irish hunter, became the first horse to be killed outright in a weekend attack on stables near Alton. Detective Chief Inspector Des Thomas has set up an office at Alton to co-ordinate inquiries and 'horsewatch' schemes are in place to guard against further attacks. Mutilations have been reported in Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Dorset.

The spokesman added: 'We have had many calls from the public and I am sure with the increased vigilance of the public we will catch those responsible.'

There had been sporadic attacks on horses for many years in most rural counties, but most were isolated incidents. Kent Police were handing their Hampshire colleagues files on numerous attacks in the 1980s.