Savage thugs who shot and badly injured a six-year-old boy are the chief suspects for shooting his uncle's horse dead.
The Herald can reveal that the sickening incident unfolded shortly after midnight yesterday at the family home of Keith Lyons in Croftwood Gardens, Ballyfermot, Dublin.
Two thugs jumped a wall and used a shotgun to kill the 38-year-old's beloved horse, Annie.
Mr Lyons is the uncle of little Sean Scully (6) who was lucky to survive after he was the victim of a reckless gun attack while playing with friends on a green near his house in Ballyfermot on June 13.
Sources say that gardai are now working on the theory that the criminals who shot the boy were also involved in yesterday morning's shocking incident.
The horse was fatally shot in the chest when the criminals broke into stables at the back of the Croftwood Gardens property.
The incident unfolded as Keith's brother Glen was sleeping in the house and was awoken by a loud bang at around 12.10am.
He jumped up and ran to the back of the property and saw two men, who were wearing grey hoodies, jump over the back wall.
The two men are both described as being around five foot 10 tall. They fled the scene on foot.
Gardai were then notified after Glen saw that the horse had suffered catastrophic injuries and officers rushed to the scene.
It is understood that the carcass of Annie was still at the scene yesterday.
No arrests have been made but sources say that gardai are investigating if the horse killers are the same gangsters who almost murdered little Sean earlier this year in a botched gun attack.
Sources say Keith Lyons was "very angry and emotional" over the killing of his horse because he raised her from a foal.
A car belonging to Mr Lyons was also vandalised outside his home last week. Tensions remain extremely high in the Cherry Orchard area of Ballyfermot.
Mr Lyons was previously arrested by gardai investigating the shooting of his nephew but is not a suspect in the case. It is understood that he was quizzed about withholding information.
Separately, earlier this month armed detectives arrested a suspect who they believe was actually involved in shooting Sean, but he was later released without charge.
Officers are still looking to arrest another suspect who they believe was "directly involved" in the reckless shooting.
That suspect is a Ballyfermot thug who is well known for involvement in serious crime.
Sean Scully was shot while playing with friends on a green near his house in Croftwood Gardens.
The gunman, who was attempting to shoot someone else in the vicinity, went on the run following the shooting.
The little boy's mother Gillian Scully has revealed how Sean suffered spinal injuries following the shooting, but was lucky that his spinal chord was only bruised by the bullet and not severed.
Previously, the senior garda leading the probe into the shooting made a plea for residents to break the wall of silence that hampers many investigations.