Bid made to steal £2.5k deer statue from forest park with a chainsaw – shortly before 300 cars descend on site

A new statue in a Co Tyrone public park has been damaged – apparently by a chainsaw.

By Adam Kula
Friday, 15th April 2022, 1:51 pm
Updated Friday, 15th April 2022, 1:56 pm
The undamaged deer (left) and the damaged one (right) - the damage is not obvious, but can be seen upon closer inspection (below)
The undamaged deer (left) and the damaged one (right) - the damage is not obvious, but can be seen upon closer inspection (below)

The damaged carving of a deer stands in Gortin Glen Forest Park, and had cost about £2,500.

It comes on top of another bizarre incident, where police said that some 300 cars descended on the park last weekend.

Whilst the wooden deer carving itself was left intact by the vandals, it looks like they tried to steal the entire sculpture by heaving it out of the ground, and by sawing through the thick tree bark at its base.

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An effort was made to wrench the supporting plate out of the earth, and to slice (right to left in this image) through the wooden trunk

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council said that the deer and other sculptures had only recently been installed, adding that “the council, alongside DAERA, has invested significantly in the facilities to ensure that it is a welcoming and inviting family-friendly place”.

It added that “such incidents undermine the great work which has been progressed so far and which has made Gortin Glen Forest Park one of our most-used facilities”.

The PSNI said that it is being treated as a case of criminal damage, and that it was drawn to its attention on April 4.

In addition, rumours have also circulated about the park having become a hangout spot for young people to show off tricks in their cars.

The PSNI told the News Letter that officers had been at a gathering there on Friday, April 8, where “approximately 300 cars were in attendance”.

However, the police added that “no motoring offences were detected”.

UUP councillor Bert Wilson chairs the management committee of the park, and expressed surprise at the PSNI’s comments.

Firstly, he said he did not believe as many as 300 cars were present and secondly, he expressed bafflement about how no offences had been observed.

He had been given to understand that large amounts of litter were left behind by the attendees.

When he visited the site two or three days afterwards, he believed much of the mess had already been cleaned up, but the car park was still strewn with broken glass with burned rubber marks indicating where cars had been screeching their tyres.

“I’d suggest that we put cameras on very tall trees - nobody could take them down very handily,” he said.

“And I’d maybe look at electrifying the gate,” he added, suggesting that it could be fitted with a timer to automatically block the entrance at night-time.

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