Chickens beaten to death and snatched in night raid

Mark Groves and son Luke and their wrecked chicken business at Upper Bourne End Lane.
Mark Groves and son Luke and their wrecked chicken business at Upper Bourne End Lane.

Chickens were beaten to death with a stick and snatched by crooks who broke into a smallholding under the cover of darkness.

Now Mark Groves of Groves Smallholding, which provides 300 free range eggs each week to Dacorum firms, says he is unable to continue with the business based in Upper Bourne End Lane, Hemel Hempstead.

“There is blood and feathers all in the chicken house,” said Mark. “He has gone in there with a stick and caused a massive frenzy.

“If he could do that to a chicken, I don’t know what he could do. I think there is a monster out there. It is just barbaric, no one can believe that someone could do it.”

Six chickens are believed to have been killed and stolen overnight on Friday, while another three were so badly injured they had to be put down.

Another one survived the ordeal but suffered a broken leg.

Mark, who had 50 chickens, had been planning to expand the family business, which was launched in August last year in partnership with partially-sighted son Luke, 25.

The dad, a painter and decorator by trade, is now closing down Groves Smallholding, which was also broken into on two occasions earlier in the month when a chainsaw and a wood burner were snatched.

Mark said: “If I had realised someone could do that to a chicken I wouldn’t have started it in the first place.”

But the 47-year-old is determined to catch the heartless thieves responsible and is offering a £5,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction.

Mark has donated some of the surviving chickens to a community garden project for adults with learning difficulties run by the Sunnyside Rural Trust.

“We were doing so well. It was quite an up and coming business. We started it from nothing,” said Mark, of Belswains Lane, Hemel Hempstead. “We are devastated.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference D1/13/1215.