Owners of three alpacas beaten to death in Buckinghamshire suspect 'foul play' after bitter planning dispute

Ella Wills
Pleasance, left, and Gabriella, right, were among the three alpacas brutally killed in Buckinghamshire: RSPCA

The brutal killings of three alpacas in a commuter village in Buckinghamshire have sparked speculation of "foul play".

Owners Andrew and Lesley Sapsford have claimed the deaths may have been the result of a bitter planning dispute, and are worried for their remaining 80 animals.

Two of the alpacas, Gabriella, one, and Pleasance, 10 and pregnant, were found beaten to death in their shelter at a farm in Buckinghamshire on January 6, the RSPCA said.

Four-month-old Ragamuffin was found dead the following day.

All three were said to have suffered "blunt force trauma", a post-mortem examination showed.

Four-month-old Ragamuffin was found dead a day later (RSPCA)

Now Dr and Mrs Sapsford have said they fear the killings may have been in response to an ongoing dispute with neighbours, according to the Times.

Last night it emerged the couple have been locked in a battle with locals over plans to build a home on greenbelt farmland.

Mrs Sapsford, 61, told the Times she suspects her family is being intimidated into abandoning plans to build a three-bedroom cabin near to the alpaca field.

She revealed the family had been victim to a break-in at their home in Amersham on November 2, the same night their contested planning application was allegedly debated by the Chiltern District Council.

The family have faced objections to the plans after making a series of changes to farmland for alpacas, farmer Richard Bradstock told the newspaper.

These included dividing the pasture into multiple sections and building a plastic tunnel for the animals to shelter in. Mr Bradstock said they "want it to look like the Serengeti".

And residents wrote to Chiltern District Council complaining about the "desecration of the green belt".

Chiltern District Councillor John Gladwin said it was likely "local youths doing something stupid", adding that he would be "surprised" if the killings were linked to the planning application.

The Chilterns branch of the RSPCA said: "We're investigating after three alpacas were beaten to death on a farm in Buckinghamshire, leaving their owners devastated."

Inspector Rachel Smith added: "This is a sickening act of cruelty which has left the owners devastated. It’s very concerning that someone would think it acceptable to do this to an animal."

Thames Valley police arrested a man from Amersham on January 10 who has since been released "under investigation", according to reports.