DEER sanctuary owner Michael Petley has condemned vandals who cut his fence and freed his deer.

More than 20 red deer escaped from the sanctuary at Sandfield House in Devizes Road, Potterne .

Michael Petley, a fund manager who works in London, has just bought the house and he and has family who live in Hampshire have not yet moved in.

Mr Petley believes the deer were deliberately targeted but does not know why.

He said: "What has possibly escaped the perpetrator's attention is that this is a sanctuary for deer. It's not a breeding house for meat in the traditional sense of farming or animal testing.

"If it was done with the mistaken intent of liberating these animals the reality is they have done anything but.

"This was a herd that was living happily and securely. They were watered and fed and now they are in unknown territory in which they are not suited or used to.

"I fear for the safety of the deer. If they get spooked they might run towards a main road causing them or people to get injured."

A few deer have returned to the sanctuary but Mr Petley said at least one was stressed by the ordeal.

The sanctuary has been there for the past eight years and before that was a deer farm.

He added: "This is a gross act of stupidity and unkindness to these animals."

The animals were released between May 24 and 25. People with information are asked to ring PC Adam Mulliss at Devizes police on 0845 408 7000.