Chicken burned alive by arsonists

John Leppington's chickens have been targeted by arsonists'picture: Ceri Oakes
John Leppington's chickens have been targeted by arsonists'picture: Ceri Oakes

A CHICKEN was doused in petrol and burned alive at the weekend by arsonists who are holding a sustained campaign of violence against an allotment owner.

William Elwick, of Abbots Road in Whitby, keeps an allotment in Spital Bridge but whenever he leaves to work aboard oil rigs his allotment is vandalised, as happened last weekend.

John Leppington uses the allotment to keep his brood of chickens and it appears his birds are now being targeted.

Mr Leppington said: “It just breaks your heart, why does anybody want to do that to an animal?

“They are my hens and they just keep coming in, torturing them and trying to burn the huts down.”

In the most recent attack the perpetrators caught a chicken and appear to have doused it in petrol before setting the bird alight.

“All the feathers and skin on its head were burnt off and my son had to ring its neck after the policeman advised us to put it down.

“I can’t explain how I feel, why would anyone want to do things like that?

“If they carry on like this someone is going to get injured or killed.”

Carly Elwick’s father is the allotment tenant and she said that the burning of the shed in itself is heartbreaking for the family.

She added: “My dad’s brother, Mike Elwick, built the shed when he was dying.

“It’s all my dad has left of his brother and they’re trying to burn it down.”

Following a previous attack, police found petrol bombs made using milk cartons had been used, but were unable to find fingerprints as the arsonists had worn gloves.

They also used bolt cutters to break through the locks, leading the victims to believe it is not just the work of youths.

Miss Elwick added: “It’s someone who’s got a bit of a grudge against my dad.

“They tried to set it on fire on Friday but it was raining.

“If it hadn’t been raining the whole thing would have burned down.

“It happens when my dad goes to work so it’s like they know when he’s not going to be around for a few weeks.”

Last weekend’s incident was the fourth time offenders had attempted to burn the allotment to the ground and the tenants have long ceased attempting to plant crops on the site.

“They’ve just completely trashed it”, added Miss Elwick, “We went planting last year but they pulled the lot up.

“Everything we do, it just gets wrecked.”

Although the police are conducting an investigation, Mr Leppington is eager for the violence to cease and is appealing for help: “If they have a problem with us, why don’t they just come and see us?

“I would like to offer a £200 reward for anybody giving information leading to a conviction.”

If you have any information contact the Gazette by calling (01947) 602836 or email

Alternatively you can contact Whitby police on 0845 60 60 247 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.