The owner of a horse which was stolen and found strangled by a Wigan canal, said that her family are “devastated” by his “cruel” death.
Christine Greene is calling for witnesses to come forward after her horse, Phoenix, was found lifeless and tied to a tree less than 24 hours after being stolen from the stables in Standish Lower Ground.
At around 7.35am on Monday morning, police received reports of a horse theft from a yard on Wigan Lower Road between 4pm on Sunday and 7am on Monday.
Witnesses have reported seeing three teens walking the horse close to McDonald’s on Gower Street - not far from where he was later found by a walker.
Following Phoenix’s death, Christine and her family have been appealing for any information that may lead to the arrest of the culprits.
“We are absolutely devastated,” she said. “It’s so horrific I can’t even begin to think about it.
“He was the most gentle little pony a child could ask for.
“What they did - they took him with a lead around his neck and walked him all of that way. They could have just left him there they didn’t have to do anything to him.
“He must have been fearing for his life.”
Christine believes that people may know who committed the incident, but are too afraid to come forward and give statements.
“There will be no names mentioned,” she added. “We just want justice for our pony. He taught so many little children to ride.
“He was taken to shows and won trophies - he was just the sweetest little thing.”
According to the devastated owner, CCTV footage from the stables shows two teenagers heading onto the site on Saturday evening - a day before Phoenix was taken.
It is believed that these two were involved in leading him away from the yard the following night.
“It was pre-meditated,” she said. “I’ve never heard anything like this before.
“Why would anyone do this without a thought for him the whole time.”
Christine dispelled initial rumours suggesting that Phoenix had been tied up and “tortured”, saying that he was found with no “visible injuries”.
Wiganers have reacted with horror after hearing the news of the horse Phoenix’s abduction and death. Hundreds of people contacting Wigan Today via social media with tributes and messages of support for the owners.
Jayne Packingham said: “Don’t know what they get out of hurting and killing a beautiful animal for nothing, hope they get caught, absolutely disgusting, poor little horse.”
Karen Kendrick added: “Just dreadful, sickening & shameful.
“Who could do such a thing to as beautiful & harmless an animal as this?”
Another reader, Angela Ball said: “Absolutely heartbreaking how can people be so cruel thinking of the owners of this beautiful horse they must be devastated.”
The incident was reported to the RSPCA.
A spokesperson for the charity, said: “We were called to assist Greater Manchester Police on Monday February 11 following the discovery of a horse which was found dead and tied to a tree on land off Gower Street in Wigan.
“The police are now leading the investigation as it is suspected the horse was stolen.
“This discovery must have been terribly upsetting for the owners of the horse and our thoughts are with them.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting 350 of 11/02/2019.