Pigeon fancier devastated over ‘savage’ attack on birds

James Dickson's pigeons were systematically killed
James Dickson's pigeons were systematically killed
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A PIGEON fancier is devastated after an “evil and sadistic” killer broke the necks of all 55 of his birds after raiding his loft.

James Dickson arrived to care for his pigeons yesterday morning – and found their lifeless bodies strewn around the hut.

The 50-year-old believes the warped killer struck in the dead of night – as the innocent birds would have stayed on their perches while each had its neck systematically snapped.

He believes the twisted attack could have taken anywhere between two and 15 minutes to carry out, taking into account the dark conditions, and the sheer number of racing birds the culprit had to weigh through.

He said: “You would have to be a savage to do this.”

Mr Dickson, who has raced pigeons since he was a boy, discovered the carnage at the allotment at Malleny Croft, near Currie Rugby Club, Balerno.

He said he cannot think of anyone who would carry out the killings and does not believe rival pigeon experts are to blame. That line of inquiry, however, is one detectives probing the shock incident are likely to look into.

Mr Dickson further revealed he believes the birds had their necks broken “expertly” and that it was not the work of foxes as their necks had been wrung and the door to their hut forced.

No pigeons were left alive by the macabre mystery neck-wringer.

Mr Dickson, who lives in Balerno, said: “I went at 7am yesterday morning to the huts. I’d last been there at the same time the day before. As I got closer I could see that the doors had been forced open. I found the pigeons lying scattered all over the place. I was just horrified. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I picked up a couple of the pigeons and could see that their necks had been snapped.

“I think it must’ve happened at night because the pigeons will stay on their perches if it’s dark. If it happened during the day then they would have flown everywhere and it would be hard to catch them.

“I’ve no idea who could’ve done this or why. I don’t have any feuds with anyone or know anyone who would want to do this. I think it’s just an evil and sadistic person.”

Mr Dickson has been involved in his “passion” for 40 years, describing himself as a “third generation fancier” whose father and grandfather both took part in the sport.

He said: “After this happened my first thought was to pack it all in. But I wouldn’t want this person to get the satisfaction to their ego so I’ll have to start again.”

Mr Dickson raced the pigeons, worth a total of £5000, in the Scottish Central League as part of the 12-strong Newbridge Homing Society. Competitors race birds from locations as far away as northern France between April and September each year.

He added: “Pigeon fancying can be really, really competitive but I can’t see any other fanciers doing this. I’m not that big of a threat.

“We’ve had kids coming into the allotment and we’ve had to chase them away, but I can’t see kids doing this.”

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police appealed for the public to help them with their hunt for the bird killer. He said: “This is a disturbing incident, not least for the owner of the pigeons who is understandably upset.

“We are appealing to anyone who was in the area yesterday evening, who saw or heard any suspicious activity, to contact police immediately.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact police on 0131-311 3131 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Rival racers under suspicion

There has been a spate of similar, sickening attacks on racing pigeons.

In 2011, Prestonfield pigeon owner Brian O’Neill had his champion flock, which was worth £30,000, targeted in an attack that saw 52 of his birds killed.

And in 2009, top racing pigeon breeder Willy Pryde saw more than 100 of his birds killed in a fire-raising attack which saw five of his six lofts in his Gorebridge garden set ablaze. The birds killed are believed to have been worth around £15,000.

A police source said rival racers and breeders will “more than likely” be looked at in relation to this latest crime.

The officer said: “With this latest attack it can’t be ruled out. The gentleman may not think he was targeted for a specific reason but someone could have been holding a grudge against him for years without him knowing the person or knowing why.”