A CHARITY horse sculpture torched by vandals and damaged beyond repair was replaced after a good samaritan stepped in.

Police are hunting the thugs who burned the 6ft tall fibreglass horse to the ground in Chatelherault Country Park, Hamilton, on June 27.

The horse, which was designed by artist Angela Nisbet, was placed on a trail to raise funds for the Kilbryde Hospice, as part of the Hamilton Business Improvement District's Ready Steady Gallop campaign

Following the vandalism, Lanarkshire businessman and Rutherglen South councillor Gerard Killen stepped in to pay for a replacement, which was unveiled at the park yesterday.

Mr Killen, of Sennit Construction, donated £2500 to buy the artwork and have it painted by Ms Nisbet.

He was inspired to help because he had volunteered at the hospice.

He said: "Like everyone else I was really saddened to find out about it being vandalised.

"I was worried about the effect that would have on funding for the charity so I really wanted to help out."

He said he was baffled by the "mindless" act.

He added: "I don't know how anyone could get any joy out of that.

"Everyone was shocked but now I think it has created more support for Ready Steady Gallop."

Designer and print maker Ms Nisbet, 32, said she had planned to take her three-year-old son Sam up to see the horse.

She said: "I was pretty devastated. He had only been out two days. When you find out that your work has been so badly damaged by a minority of people in such a short space of time it's hard to understand.

"My son was expecting to see it so I had to explain to him that it wasn't there."

As the Evening Times reported yesterday, police released CCTV images of four men they want to speak to in connection with their inquiries.