A man arrested over the deaths of six sheep in the New Forest has been released pending further inquiries, writes Chris Yandell.

The 41-year-old man from Winchester was detained on suspicion of six counts of criminal damage following a spate of incidents in the Bramshaw and Cadnam area.

Officers said the arrest related to the deaths of sheep in Penn Common Road, Bramshaw, and Wittensford Lane and Kewlake Lane in Cadnam.

Last night police confirmed the man had been released but said he remained under investigation.

The deaths began last November, when a ewe was found stabbed at Penn Common and marked with pentagrams - a five-pointed star often associated with occultism.

Read more: Another three sheep found dead in New Forest after suffering puncture wounds

In other incidents a cow grazing in Bramshaw returned with a wound on its neck and two calves at Linwood suffered minor injuries to their shoulders.

Police launched extra patrols amid fears that members of a Satanic-style cult were active in the area.

On January 2 a sheep was found stabbed to death near a pond at Kewlake Lane. A broken pitchfork and a cross made of straw were found beside the body.

Villagers said the animal appeared to have been dragged into the middle of the road.

Another sheep was killed in the Wittensford Lane area between 5pm on January 16 and 8am the next day.

On the same night a sheep died in Penn Common Road after suffering what police described as “puncture wounds” to its neck.

Officers were called again last week after the body of a sheep was found in the Wittensford Lane area.