By Rory Reynolds
MORE than 100 top racing pigeons have been burned alive in a horrific arson attack.
Police are investigating the torching of top racing pigeon breeder Willy Pryde’s garden – in which £15,000 worth of prize birds were lost.
Willy has blasted the culprits as being “evil” and said those who carried out the massacre are inhuman.
The trainer and his family, from Gorebridge, Midlothian, rushed out to their garden to witness the horrific sight of their prize flock ablaze.
They tried in vain to save their champion pigeons but just 16 of 120 survived the attack, which occurred at around 4am on Saturday.Willy witnessed a man running from the scene and Lothian and Borders CID are investigating the fire-raising attack, which is believed to be deliberate.
The 58-year-old said: “I couldn’t believe that somebody could be so evil.
“Although we didn’t see them do it, I saw somebody in a cream-coloured shirt run off.
“You can’t be human to do something like this.
“It will cost me over £15,000 to replace all these birds and will take me three or four years to build up a collection.
“It’s not about the money – they were our hobby.”
Willy’s daughter Lynsey said that a man had threatened to burn down their pigeon loft after she broke up a fight at a party earlier that night.
The proud family man said that other pigeon breeders had kindly called to offer their condolences and give him some of their birds.
But Willy, who is a member of the Midlothian Pigeon Federation, said he was lost without his little winners.
He said: “From 2002 my guys were at the top of the tree.
“They were little award winners and even won a gold cup with the club in 2007 and 2008.
“I’m lost without them.”
The attack is the second time that Willy’s birds have been interfered with.
Last year a thief attempted to steal them from their cages.
A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Border Police are investigating a suspicious fire to a pigeon loft at a residential property in Swan Crescent, Gorebridge.
“The incident resulted in an estimated £15,000 worth of damage.
“Anyone who was in the area at the time and saw anything suspicious or has information to assist our enquiries should contact police immediately.”
Last year a pigeon trainer had to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to one bird after a suspicious fire killed 33 others in his collection.