A FAMILY fear a brutal animal killer is lacing food with poison to rid a street of foxes, putting children and pets at risk.

Vicki Ellis, 29, and her partner Kev Butler, 33, were horrified to find four dead fox cubs next to a pile of chicken and sausage in their back garden in Vaughan Williams Road, Laindon.

They were taken away by animal welfare charity the RSPCA which estimated they had been clubbed over the head. It is now investigating.

But Vicki believes they could have been lured or poisoned by food which was next to them when they were found.

She worries for the safety of her children Jake, three, and Sophie, two. She said: “If my children were in the garden what could have happened to them? Or if the dog next door picked up the food?

“We have to check the garden every day in case there has been something brought in by the foxes or if there’s any more dead.”

One dead cub first appeared in Vicki and Kev’s garden on the morning of Thursday, April 10. The next day three more were found. They are thought to have been about four weeks old and they still had their black new-born fur. One was found stuck in football goal netting which Vicki quickly removed to stop more being caught.

Vicki added: “There used to be about five foxes around here, but recently they have disappeared.

“We have never had a problem with them. They can’t get through our bins as they are plastic.

“A dead fox was found nearby in my mum’s garden last year just before Christmas as well.

She also used to feed one and named it Stuart and it was so tame she would even let it in the house. But then it disappeared and we haven’t seen it since.”

The road regularly sees foxes roam the streets and enter gardens, but the majority of residents had nothing against them.

John Turner, 70, said: “It’s disgraceful if they have been killed.

“We have a big old dog fox that has been coming around here for about five years. They can be a nuisance to some people, but it’s no excuse to kill them.”

Anyone with information can call the RSCPA on 0300 123 8018.