A PEACOCK has died after five birds given to a school to keep as pets were mysteriously set free.

There are four more peacocks loose in Great Witley, near Worcester, and concerns have been raised that they too could end up injured or distressed if they aren't caught soon.

However, the head at Abberley Hall School, which own the errant birds, has said they are struggling to capture the remaining peacocks and has called for someone to come forward to help.

The peacocks, which are under a year old, were given to Abberley Hall School by the family of one of its pupils, after Basil, a peacock who had been living at the school for two decades died in January.

Two of the loose birds have been spotted near Fountain Court but on Tuesday, July 25 one of the birds was hit by a car and died.

A further bird is believed to have been spotted in Astley and two have been seen in Abberley.

Local resident Nicola Griffiths, aged 47, of Fountain Court, believes a pupil from the school released the birds from a pen about nine weeks ago.

Headteacher Will Lockett denied this and said he believed they were freed by an outsider and not a pupil.

However, Mrs Griffiths, a dental radiographer and receptionist, said it had been a "dreadful sight" to see a peacock dead on the verge, hit by car, and another in distress.

She added: "I am very annoyed with Abberley School, who were gifted these birds and have been given the option of having them adopted by a peacock farm in Worcester."

But Mr Lockett said: "We do not think this was any of our pupils, who simply would not wish to do this.

"Our pupils are young and not inclined to do something which has caused so much trouble.

"In our internal investigations none of our pupils know anything about anyone releasing them - usually our kids spill the beans pretty quickly. "Therefore we have to conclude that someone not in the school has released them, which is a great pity."

Mr Lockett said he had tried to capture the birds on several occasions in various different locations including Fountain Court but all attempts had been "unsuccessful".

He is now urging anyone with advice on how to recapture the birds to come forward.

Mr Locket said: "It was a big disappointment to discover that the five peacocks which were given to the school were released into the wild.

"We have been trying hard, and still have not given up, to recapture them for several weeks.

"However, as anyone who has ever tried will tell you, catching a peacock is not at all easy."

The animals were kept in a run/large cage in order to teach them this would be their base, after which they would have been able to be released and they should have stayed on the school campus.

The Parish Council have contacted the RSPCA, RSPB and the highways department at Worcestershire County Council about the birds.