ARSONISTS have attacked a farm house which breeds rabbits for medical research – while a family were asleep inside.
Police have condemned the attack on the Normanby-by-Spital farm, saying that it could have killed someone.
Emergency services were called to Highgate Farm, off Highgate Lane in Normanby-by-Spital near Hemswell Cliff, at around 2.16am on Tuesday 5th July after reports of an arson attack.
Officers attended the scene and found a Mercedes Sprinter van had been set on fire and an incendiary device had been thrown at the door of a house on the site.
Both blazes were extinguished and no one was hurt. The van was damaged extensively, but the fire had not spread from the door and only minor damage to the house was caused.
The farm has been the target of repeated attacks and has seen many protests from animal rights activists.
Geoff Douglas lives and works on the farm and said he has grown ‘immune’ to this sort of thing, but would like to see the culprits brought to justice.
“I heard the alarms going off in the house so I knew someone was on the property and then I saw someone throw firebombs at the house on CCTV,” he said.
“I got out there pretty quickly and was able to put the fires out before much damage was done.”
He added: “It’s not the first time we’ve had problems.”
On Monday 19th July last year a vehicle was set alight on the farm, when eight rabbits were in the rear of the van.
The animals died in the blaze and the van was totally destroyed.
“It was terrible,” said Geoff. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and we’ve come to expect it. I’ve grown immune to this sort of thing.”
Geoff said that the work they do at the farm is important and beneficial to the community.
“The NHS relies on us so much for developing medicines, as do the veterinary service. Everybody uses the NHS and we do a very worthwhile job here.”
Geoff continued: “I’m looking forward to the day when they catch this person. When you play with fire you get burned, and I can’t wait to see them get sent down - they are the ones who should be frightened.”
“The locals and neighbours have given us unbelievably incredible support because they recognise the importance of what we do, and I’d like to thank them.”
The Standard have since been contacted by an anonymous source claiming to be from the activists responsible.
“Activists frustrated by the lack of compassion by Geoffrey Douglas and his family decided to send a very clear message to them – it’s time you got out of the vivisection industry,” they said in an email. “They had made sure that the conservatory was unoccupied and with the loud alarm system that was triggered by our arrival meant that there was no chance of any harm coming to the Douglas’.”
They added: “Rest assured, while you profit from this disgusting genocide, we will be there to make you experience just a tiny amount of the fear that you help to cause to those innocent, beautiful creatures.”
Police spokesman James Newall responded to the message by saying: “We are aware of this posting and it is informing our on-going inquiry.”
Speaking at the scene, Det Supt Stuart Morrisson condemned the attackers.
“The family here could have suffered severe injury or worse,” he said. “This is an extremely reckless act that will not further anyone’s cause.”
“I recognise that people may not agree with what goes on here and I respect their right to have an opinion and want to bring about change, but that must come about by lawful means.”
“This obvious attack on a building where people were clearly sleeping takes things to a new level of criminality, which cannot be justified in any circumstances.”
Detective Supt Morrisson added: “Whoever has done this clearly has very few boundaries and I would like the reasonable members of the movement to think about that.”
Police would encourage any witnesses or anyone who has any information to call Lincs Police on 0300 111 0300 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.