A COCKEREL in the village of Bishop Monkton has hit the national headlines after being found dead.
Poultry farmer Jane Gosney found her light Sussex cockerel Claude dead in his hut on Sunday morning.
“I was absolutely gutted to find Claude dead. It’s just a senseless killing,” said Mrs Gosney.
“I’d put him in his carry case within a darkened locked hut over night and when I went to let him out on Sunday morning the hut had been broken into.
“Someone had used bolt cutters on the padlock on and strangled him.”
She had been putting Claude in the dark hut at night to keep him safe and stop him crowing early in the morning after complaints from a village resident.
Three weeks ago Claude and two other cockerels in the village were stolen from their homes on one night, but was found and returned following a report by the Ripon Gazette. The village has been locked in dispute and mystery over complaints about crowing cockerels for years, with five birds disappearing in the last two years.
But Mrs Gosney’s neighbours are equally horrified by Claude’s death.
Local resident Richard Field said: “Ninety-nine per cent of the village are shocked and horrified that somebody should be doing this because I think most people would think they are a legitimate part of village life.”
Police sent scene of crime officers to search for evidence in the shed, and have interviewed one suspect who denied any involvement.
PC Gareth Jones of Ripon police station said: “This case has now escalated from a simple theft to a burglary and an alarming case of animal cruelty. It is also extremely distressing for its owner.”
Now police are appealing for anyone who has information or saw suspicious activity around Orchard Farm, Bishop Monkton, on Saturday night to come forward.
Delighted to have Claude back safe and sound after his disappearance, Jane vowed to keep him under lock and key at night only for him to be killed less than a month later.
She is determined to keep cockerels on her farm. “I have 20 chicks in an incubator at the moment, and I am hoping there will be some little Claudes in there.”
Anyone with information should contact PC Jones on 0845 60 60 247 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.