AN animal lover has been forced to spend close to £10,000 repairing a property he rents for his horses following an arson attack.

Ian Groves’ hay barn, in a meadow next to Blue Bridge in Halstead, went up in flames last month.

The building was burnt to the ground and so far the damage has cost Ian and his partner Daisy Lowry almost £10,000 to clear and repair.

Luckily the three horses were not in the barn at the time.

But the couple also use the barn to store tonnes of hay, vintage car parts and horse riding equipment, which was damaged in the flames.

The fire which started at about 10pm burnt for almost an hour before firefighters were able to put it out.

Mr Groves believes whoever is responsible for the attack was able to get away very quickly.

He said: “My mate went past the barn at 9.55pm and saw nothing, then at 10pm it was up in flames.”

The community rallied together to offer tack for the horses and even offered a new barn, but Ian turned it down fearing it could be torched again.

Mr Groves said: “People have been really helpful. I’m not angry, I am more upset.

“Me and my mate built that 15 years ago in the winter in the snow.”

The couple have been clearing the site on their own and have had CCTV cameras installed around the property.

Mr Groves said he had contacted police three times since the incident but says he has not heard back.

He said: “They said they would get in contact with me soon after the event, but I have heard nothing.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said officers tried to visit Mr Groves last Thursday but could not find him down.

They also tried calling him on the same day but were unable to get hold of him.