A MAN has been arrested by Hampshire police in relation to the grisly deaths of half a dozen sheep.
The 41-year-old from Winchester was questioned by detectives after being apprehended on Friday on suspicion of six counts of criminal damage.
This morning (Monday) a spokesperson for the force said he had now been released under investigation until 22nd February. “Enquiries are ongoing,” she added.
As reported, in the A&T, there have been a total of six sheep deaths since mid-November, including one killed with a pitchfork and others dead from puncture wounds.
Announcing the arrest, a Hampshire police spokesperson said: “They relate to the deaths of sheep in Wittensford Lane and Kewlake Lane, Cadnam, and Penn Road, Bramshaw.”
The most recent three incidents happened in the last fortnight. Previously, a New Forest sheep was found on 2nd January in the middle of a road in Cadnam.
The deaths sparked fears modern-day Satanists were targeting animals in the area as some of those found slain were spray-painted with pentagrams and upside-down crosses were left close by.
Officers from Hampshire Constabulary’s Country Watch team have been investigating the attacks and liaising with the verderers and affected livestock owners.
Last year a sheep was found on 18th December in a field off Rodlease Lane, near Boldre, and on 19th November a ewe was found in Bramshaw.
Responding to the news of the arrest, the Commoners Defence Association (CDA) said on Facebook: “The CDA is pleased to hear that an arrest has been made in relation to attacks on sheep in the New Forest.”
Anyone with information on the incidents should call police on 101 and quote reference number 44200013948.