A MANIAC with a sick grudge has turned a country playground into a minefield (writes BRIAN GOMM)

Dangerous booby-traps have made a tract of countryside on the outskirts of Leigh virtually a no-go area, say horse-lovers.

Vicious spiked timber planks have been discovered in places which are popular with children, horse-riders, walkers and runners.

Furious Margaret Morgan of Clough House Farm told The Journal:"Whoever is doing this needs stopping before they maim or kill someone.

"It isn't kids who are doing this. A few years ago a motorcyclist was garrotted by a wire trap not far from here. Is the same maniac who set that responsible for this latest lunacy."

Her daughter, Andrea, discovered the first nail studded plank a week ago as she walked her horse along a track near her home off Holden Road.

Her father, David, later retrieved two spiked planks - one seven foot long with 82 long nails hammered through - set across the path.

Now country lovers are warned to be on their guard for the potentially lethal traps set in the area between Lilford Park and Green Lane.

Mrs Morgan said a motorcyclist found a third 62 nail-riddled plank on Saturday which was part buried in mud at the bottom of a ditch.

That area is a regular training ground for bike riders and cross-country runners.

She said:"Whoever set these traps knows where they are. If they have any conscience they should go and remove them now.

"It could be you, your child, horse or dog who gets hurt or worse.

"The Police collected the evidence and are concerned for their own officers as well as the public. Mounted Police and the off-road motorcycle division regularly ride these tracks. Traps like this don't discriminate."

Horse rider Brenda Gaskell highlighted hidden dangers in the area.

Brenda who regularly rides in the area said:"I have come across wire strung across tracks, saplings snapped and laid as obstacles and broken bottles embedded in the ground.

"They are put there to stop motorbikes.

"If a horse puts its foot on a bottle it usually has to be shot. Whoever is doing this is cowardly and facing a potential manslaughter charge."

Leigh Police Supt. Malcolm Howells said:"We need to be vigilant. This is something that could provoke serious injury. If this has been done deliberately it is a criminal act and we would not hesitate to take action."

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.