Foxes being tortured and set on fire by gang in east London

Stock image of a fox  (Shutterstock)
Stock image of a fox (Shutterstock)

A gang of sick thugs have been torturing and setting fire to foxes in east London, police say.

Officers said the group travel to the area surrounding Kestrel Avenue and Linton Gardens in Beckton to torture foxes.

Police are investigating after a member of the public was woken up by screaming on February 27 at around 1am.

The distressed sounds, which they initially thought were from a human, belonged to a fox who the gang had set on fire in a wooded area nearby.

The resident reported seeing the group pour suspected lighter fluid over the animal and set fire to it. The fox escaped but was badly burned. It is not known whether it survived.

They called an animal rescue group who in turn called the police.

Officers said the men regularly go to the area in the early hours of the morning and reportedly capture and torture foxes.

The start fires to smoke them out of their dens and set dogs on them, police said.

The gang could possibly operate further afield, police warn. The group is described as four black men, aged about 18 to 20.

Detective Constable James Mahoney, a wildlife crime officer in Newham and Waltham Forest, said: “I am truly shocked and sickened by these appalling, cruel incidents and I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward so we can catch those responsible and prevent any more foxes from being hurt.

“If you live in the area, please check any doorbell, dash cam or CCTV footage in case you’ve captured these heinous crimes or a group of males matching the description loitering around.

“It is also possible that the group are not just targeting foxes in the Kestrel Avenue area, and so I’d urge the people of Newham to remain vigilant and report any information to us or Crimestoppers anonymously.”