Flintshire mum 'can't sleep for worrying' after finding pet birds dead outside home

Daily Post Wales/Gail Edwards
Gail Edwards and son Alfie Credit: Daily Post Wales/Gail Edwards

A woman has told of the horrifying moment she found six of her hens and ducks laid out dead in a row.

Gail Edwards keeps a flock of birds in her Flintshire garden, partly to provide diversion therapy for her son Alfie, who has autism.

But on Monday (October 25), she discovered 22 of her beloved birds were missing, and six more were dead outside her Connah’s Quay home.

Hairdresser Gail believes the birds were stolen and her brother Robert said whoever is responsible has reached "a new level of evil".

And Gail's father has been "keeping guard in the garden" since the incident, as the family are 'terrified' they could be targeted again.

What happened?

On Sunday evening (October 25), the birds were locked up in a shed adjoining their aviary in the garden of Gail’s house.

The next morning she looked down from her bedroom window and saw the smaller breeds out in the aviary.

She said: “That couldn’t be, as I’d shut them away for the night. Then I realised they weren’t moving.”

After hurrying down to the garden, Gail was horrified by what she found. Six dead birds were laid out in a line, and 22 others were missing.

At first the family thought a fox could be responsible, but typically their killings are frenzied.

“There was no blood and no signs of entry under the fence,” said Gail, 44.

Gail Edwards' dad Gwilym Credit: Daily Post Wales/Gail Edwards

“Neither would foxes lay out the dead in a row or leave no trace of the 22 missing birds.

“I have seen the aftermath of a fox attack and this was nothing like that.”

Gail’s father Gwilym believes the birds were strangled, and the incident has been reported to police.

CCTV failed to find any evidence of entry via the front, but searches of the garden revealed a fence had been cut from the cemetery side.

Police have visited the property and have listed the incident as theft, said Gail.

“They don’t have conclusive proof but it all points that way,” she said.

Gail began expanding her poultry flock during the first lockdown last year.

As well as rescued cage hens, she has larger breeds like Blackrock and Leghorn chickens and a few are more expensive breeds, like Silkies and Polish hens. The birds are regarded as pets and all have names.

It quickly became apparent that the larger, table birds gone and ten smaller ones survived.

“Whoever did this knew what they were doing,” said Gail.

“Not only did they kill them cleanly, they knew which birds to select. It looks like they opened the hatch and grabbed the birds as they came out.

“So they probably stole them for meat, either for themselves or to sell on."

Gail continued: “We think they left six dead birds behind because they were too heavy to carry.

Gail Edwards' son Alfie Credit: Gail Edwards

“I’ve had to put them in the bin for proper disposal, as you’re not allowed to bury them, and they were quite a weight.

“To carry away that many suggests there was more than one person, perhaps even a gang.”

As the flock expanded, they became a popular attraction with local families, who were welcome to visit.

Gail also has a daughter, Caitlin, and a grandson, Logan, who was smitten by the birds.

Gail hoped they would provide diversion therapy for Alfie, who suffers from autism.

It worked. “They keep his mind occupied,” she said.

“During lockdown we helped deliver food parcels and Alfie donated his eggs to people who were stuck at home.”

'I can't sleep for worrying if they'll come back'

The family is hoping nearby residents will check their CCTV cameras.

While the local community has been quick to offer its support, Gail said she still lies awake at night.

“My dad has been fantastic, watching out for the birds still alive, but I can’t sleep for worrying if they’ll come back,” she said.

“I’ve been offered new birds by local people, which is lovely, but I can’t take any until I’ve stepped up security.”

Difficult conversations await Gail and daughter Caitlin as they try to explain what's happened to Alfie and Logan.“I’ve only told Alfie a little about what’s happened, as he’s away with his dad at the moment,” said Gail.

“Logan doesn’t know anything yet and it will be so hard.”

Last week North Wales Police warned of "increasing reports of anti-social behaviour caused by youths" near the old Somerfield building in Connah's Quay High Street.

Its North Flintshire team said officers will be stepping up patrols and dealing "robustly" with any incidents.

Evidence and information can be reported to North Wales Police on 101.