A hunt for a "vile" pet poisoner is underway after food laced with poison was found n a public car park.

Food laced with poison had been found by walkers following a spate of cruel poisonings in parts of East Belfast, Lisburn Castlereagh and North Down.

Councillor Sharon Skillen claimed a "disturbing individual" needs to be "caught and brought to justice" and has since called for CCTV to be installed.

Ms Skillet also said she believes the individual is "still at large" amongst the community and warned people to keep their poor defenceless animals or children safe, BelfastLive reports.

Speaking at a Leisure Committee meeting on Tuesday, Cllr Skillen, said: "It's vile behaviour that somebody would try to kill or injure any poor defenceless animal or a child.

"Any individual that tries to harm the defenceless is a disturbing individual and they need to be caught and brought to justice.

"It shouldn't be allowed to happen and I have raised it with the Lisburn Castlereagh Council and they should be doing everything they can because part of it is on their property.

"I have called for CCTV to be installed, even if it takes multiple cameras.

"We need to try to catch this individual who is still at large amongst our community."

A local dog organisation has also urged pet owners to be on their guard, and advised all dogs be kept on their leads "at all times."

Andrea Mannus, a spokeswoman for the Lost and Found for North Down and Surrounding Areas, said: "We would advise people to keep their dogs on leads at all times and for Council to seriously consider CCTV cameras in the park."

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The incidents have reportedly been taking place for more than two years, Ross Gillanders, Head of Leisure Services for Lisburn Castlereagh Council, said.

It is understood police are investigating the poisonings but it is not clear if they're searching for a group of people or one person.

A spokesperson for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: "Over the New Year period, food that appeared to have been laced with unknown tablets and left for animals to eat at Billy Neill MBE Country Park.

"The substance was removed and safely disposed of and the PSNI informed.

"We would ask anyone who sees anything suspicious or knows anything to report it immediately to the PSNI or in confidence to Crimestoppers."

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