A pagan priest has called on the PSNI to investigate the theft of a statue of a sea god as a hate crime.
The 6ft statue of Manannan Mac Lir was cut down and removed from the top of Benevenagh Mountain above Limavady last week.
A cross inscribed with the words 'Thou shalt have no other gods but me' was left in its place.
This is evidence that the theft was a hate crime against people who worship pagan gods, according to Patrick Carberry, who describes himself as a traditional Celtic shamanic priest.
He said: "If a 6ft cross had been taken and replaced with a statue or symbol associated with paganism or any other non-Christian faith there would have been a huge backlash and it would have been investigated as a hate crime."
The thieves took an angle grinder to the steel frame of the statue of Manannán Mac Lir. The statue was one of five scattered across the Roe Valley as part of a Sculpture Trail aimed at boosting tourism in 2013. The remaining four pieces of artwork were left unscathed.
Former Limavady mayor Gerry Mullan said the theft was premeditated and was not a random act of vandalism.
He said: "Local people are extremely angry that this statue has been taken. It really enhanced what is already a beautiful spot from which visitors and residents alike can sit and enjoy the view and I would appeal to whoever took the statue to give it back."
Police are hunting the thieves and have appealed for information.