A MOTHER from York has today told of her distress after the horse she had leased was shot dead and dumped in her garden.

Beckie Warner, 26, said she had just put her daughters to bed on Wednesday night when she heard a JCB and went outside and found seven-year-old thoroughbred and former racehorse Kit dying on her lawn. A 36-year-old man arrested in connection with the incident has been bailed to allow police to make further inquiries and a 53-year-old man, arrested at the same time, has been released without charge.

She said: "I am absolutely devastated. I still cannot think straight. It's like being in a trance. I cannot get my head round what has happened, that someone could do something so evil. 

"It's unreal - it's like something you would read about."

York Press:

Beckie, of The Green in Raskelf, near Easingwold, had leased Kit from its owner and kept it in a DIY livery - where a regular fee is paid for the horse to stay in a field owned by the nearby GG Centre, but the responsibility of looking after it does not fall with the business. Locals suggested the dispute was over a £30 debt.

The Press understands the horse had been killed and driven to the property in the bucket of a JCB before being dumped in the garden.

Beckie said she put her daughters Honey, seven, and Lexi, four, to bed, and when she went to put the rubbish out at 9.30pm she saw a shape in the garden.

She said: "I walked over and used the torch on my phone and she was still moving at that point.

"I was horrified. I ran back inside and locked the door then phoned the police."

York Press:

The RSPCA today said they believed Kit, above, had been humanely killed, but Beckie said she was distraught and her children had to walk past Kit as they went to school yesterday.

RSPCA inspector Karen Colman attended on Wednesday night and yesterday said Kit may have been killed with a single shot from a pistol.

She said the horse had been shot in the head, in what looked a humane killing, and said there was no other damage to the horse.

"It's considered to be a humane way to euthanise a horse if it's broken a leg, but there were no physical injuries to the horse whatsoever and to my knowledge no-one has said there was anything wrong with the horse," she said. "It was more of a dispute."

Insp Colman said a police investigation had been launched and the RSPCA would assist, but it is not illegal to humanely kill a horse if the owner's permission has been sought.

Donna Spencer, from Acomb, was at the scene last night, and said: "The lady only had the horse on loan, she didn't own it.

"He phoned her and threatened her, and said if she didn't pay the money, the horse would be tied up in her garden. I'm just sickened, I can't believe someone has stooped so low to shoot someone's horse over £30. This needs to get out there."

Edward Harvey Johnson, owner of the GG Centre, said he tried to contact Ms Warner in recent weeks, and had told her they would tether the horse in her garden if she did not contact them.

He said the animal was left without a rug for warmth and he decided to load it into a horsebox and leave it in Ms Warner's garden, but attempts to get the animal safely into a horse box were unsuccessful.

York Press:

Mr Johnson, above: "It was kicking out and rearing up and we couldn't walk up or approach it without being hurt. One of our employees has been hurt by it while trying to move it. These things can turn on a sixpence and weigh half a tonne."

He said when his employees could not cajole the horse into the box they worried it could break free or hurt itself or others and said it was then put down humanely by a licensed specialist, before being transported to Ms Warner's garden for disposal.

He said: "We removed the destroyed horse for them to dispose of in the correct or legal manner, as is the responsibility of the owner.

"We are satisfied it was handled in the best possible way and we fulfilled our obligations for the safety and well-being of the general public.

"In this business you have to make these kind of decisions and they are not always pleasant or easy, but they have to be made. The buck has to stop somewhere."

Raskelf residents told of their shock today. Dennis Jarvis, who lives on The Green, said he saw police arriving around 11.15pm yesterday.

He said: "There must have been about 12 police vehicles coming and going, vans, cars and officers in plain clothes. I looked down from my window and could see a big shape under some sheets, and I thought it might be a human body."

He said the resident whose garden the horse had been put in had only lived there for a few weeks.

Kit raced four times under the name War Kitty, and was trained by Johnson Racing Ltd, near Newcastle.

Kenny Johnson who helped train Kit, said: "Things like that shouldn't happen. The horse had a life of training and it's shocking news."

*A 36-year-old Raskelf man, arrested in connection with the incident just after midnight on Thursday, has been bailed to allow police to make further inquiries.  A 53-year-old York man, arrested at the same time, has been released without charge.