Police investigating an horrific attack on a horse that was mutilated and killed have not ruled out the theory that its slaughter was part of a satanic ritual.
A two-year-old stallion named Eric was found with its genitalia and teeth removed and one eye gouged out in a field in Stithians, Cornwall on Monday.
The horrific nature of the attack has led to speculation that it may have been a ritualistic killing. Saturday 7 January, two days before the horse's body was found, is known in the 'Satanic Calendar' as St Winebald Day - a date celebrated by Satanists with dismemberment and sacrifice of humans and animals.
"Obviously that is one line we're going to pursue - but it isn't the only line," said Insp Chris Strickland.
"This is a particularly sickening crime, one that I've never come across before involving such extensive mutilation," said DI Tony Blatchford, of Devon and Cornwall police.
"Detectives are following lines of inquiry to try to identify the offender. I'd ask all horse and livestock owners to be particularly vigilant and report anything suspicious to police."
Police are investigating whether the mutilation occurred before or after the animal, a stallion, died and if it was drugged before the attack.
This incident, which occurred between 4pm on Sunday and midday on Monday, follows a similar mutilation in Carmarthenshire, South Wales, on 5 January in which a pony had its eyes removed and sustained other fatal injuries.