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Horse slashers profiled

(Oct 22, 1998)
A link between paedophiles and the growing number of unexplained attacks on horses has been discovered by psychiatrists, it was reported in the Independent recently.

The attacks, which often involve sexual mutilation, have baffled authorities for more than a decade.

German scientists will carry out a three-year study backed by ILPH (UK) into the attacks, after the arrest of a man for "horse ripping" in Germany. The man had a history of abusing children.

The first conference on horse mutilation takes place in Germany next month, and the paedophile theory will be discussed by psychologists and police.

"Horse ripping" was the subject of Peter Shaffer's play Equus, in which a boy is examined by a psychiatrist to discover why he uses an iron spike to put out the eyes of the horses he loves.

British police and animal experts have blamed fertility cults, rival horse owners and sadists for the attacks. Between 1983 and 1993 more than 160 horses were stabbed and sexually mutilated.

No one has yet been charged in Britain for the attacks.

Alexandra Schedel Stuppich, a biologist and a horse breeder, will research the mutilations. In Germany, there have been more than 300 crimes and 89 horse deaths since 1992.

"There has been little research because it is a taboo subject," Ms Schedel Stuppich said. "We were lucky in that we were able in this case to catch up with one of the people involved in these attacks and we could research his history.

"He had been an abuser of children and had a sexual motive for abusing horses. Little girls give a lot of love to horses and there is therefore a psychological connection with children. Paedophiles thrive on that tenderness shown by children and animals but there is also a sadistic side in that it gives them power. It's time we got the experts at one table to tackle the problem."

Ted Barnes, a member of the Metropolitan Police Equine Unit for 10 years, is expected to speak at the conference. He is now a field officer for the ILPH, and is convinced there is a link between paedophilia and attacks on horses.

"There are so many similarities between the two crimes," he said. "Horses and children are beautiful and vulnerable. Both are innocent, cannot consent and have a special trust with adult humans.

"I've had a couple of instances as well where people have gone on from mutilating horses to abusing children."

 

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