THE owner of alpaca Geronimo says she can't rest or get closure until she finds out how he died - two years after he was 'executed' by Defra.

Helen MacDonald, 52, said she still doesn’t know how he was killed and worries he was strangled due to the tightness of the rope around his neck.

The eight-year-old alpaca was killed on August 31 2021 after twice testing positive for Bovine TB after campaigners failed in a four year battle to save him.

Helen has long claimed these were 'false positives' and testing was flawed.

Since he was dragged to his death, Helen said they have battled for two years to get answers - but are no closer in getting 'justice for Geronimo.'

Gazette Series: Helen MacDonald with Geronimo the alpaca - photo by SWNS Matthew Newby Helen MacDonald with Geronimo the alpaca - photo by SWNS Matthew Newby (Image: SWNS)

And she said she is now pinning her hopes on a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) which is due to rule on her complaint against Defra later this year.

She said: "On a personal level day to day life is slowly getting easier.

"I am focusing on restoring my physical and mental health and starting to think about the future but in reality, nothing much has changed during the last two years.

"I continue to take enormous comfort from supporters everywhere even if most days I cannot look at the beautiful tributes.

"So many people continue to be haunted by the shocking senselessness of Geronimo’s removal by Defra on the order of George Eustice when there was a perfectly safe credible solution available in law.

"The avoidable cruelty displayed by vets and officials that day is something we will never understand or forgive.

"Inexcusable cruelty, ‘carefully planned’ and chosen, along with the use of that rope, over shooting Geronimo at home which is the usual way of things for camelids slaughtered by the government.

"They couldn’t even manage to kill him humanely.

Gazette Series: Geronimo was taken into a horsebox and driven away under police escort in August 2021 - photo by SWNS Tom Wren Geronimo was taken into a horsebox and driven away under police escort in August 2021 - photo by SWNS Tom Wren (Image: SWNS)

"They demonstrated complete ignorance of camelids, their behaviours and their specific requirements, which was clear to see and hear for all those who witnessed it.

"Unforgivably, Defra have still not provided any evidence to support their version of events about when, where, and how Geronimo died.

"We continue to demand the truth along with the supporting evidence as proof."

Witnesses say Geronimo was taken into a horsebox and driven away under police escort in the presence of around 15 police officers at Wickwar, South Gloucestershire. 

A post mortem later found no trace of Bovine TB in him.

Helen added: "They knew he did not get TB here and he was healthy - but it has been a complete conspiracy from day one.

"They could not afford to have me stand up and speak the truth. They had to kill Geronimo as it was the only way they could get out of it. They killed a healthy animal and lied about it.

"The postmortem examination, histopathology examinations and the tissue cultures carried out by Senior APHA pathologists at APHA Weybridge all proved negative for Bovine TB as we expected they would by December 2021."

Helen said the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) are currently investigating her complaint about Defra with the process ongoing for two years.

She said they expect the outcome of this investigation by the end of this year.

Gazette Series: Matthew Newby

She added: "Once we have these findings, we can plan the next steps for getting justice for Geronimo and accountability from Defra, whilst focusing on the Geronimo’s Law campaign – reform of bTB policy for the benefit of all susceptible species.

"It is so important to us that no one else goes through what we are still enduring because of Defra’s dogma and dishonesty at the highest levels.

"The misuse of validated tests in healthy animals is unethical and unacceptable. Current bTB policy has shown to be not fit for purpose in controlling disease and we continue to demand a public inquiry in Geronimo’s name leading to policy reform.

"We should all be working together to eradicate bTB, applying fairness, accurate risk assessment and evidence-based science."

Helen said the last two years had been a struggle for her personally and had left her traumatised.

She added: "I am slowly recovering my mental and physical health but it's been awful.

"Defra are still being dishonest about what happened and will still not admit he never had TB.

"It has been make believe from day one - they need to be held to account.

"We have been denied any information - it is a closed shop.

"We don't know how he died. Whether he was shot in or strangled in the trailer, we still don't know."

Helen said animals are still being slaughtered needlessly.

She added: "It will keep happening until they are made to tell the truth."

"It has been a constant battle all the way through.

"But we won't give up. Geronimo deserves justice at least."

Gazette Series: Matthew Newby

Helen said they still get support from across the world and messaged daily by people who struggle with their own issues.

She added: "We get contacted from farmers all over - it doesn't stop and we have lots of support all over the world. It has given me a lot of comfort. 

“Everyone knows what went on and the fact there was nothing wrong with him - there was a safe option where he could have stayed alive.

"I could not have carried on without that support. I am only just feeling well enough to look at it in detail but we have to push forward."

Helen said the two year anniversary was only important in the spotlight being shone again on the issue.

She added: "The anniversary is just another day. Every day is the same really - we never stop thinking about it and can not get closure until we know how he died.

"This date will get more attention and I always happy to talk to anyone that wants to about Geronimo."

A Defra spokesperson said: "Our sympathies remain with all those with animals affected by this terrible disease which devastates farmers’ livelihoods.

"It is important to remember that infected animals can spread the disease to both animals and people before displaying clinical signs, which is why we take action quickly to limit the risk of the disease spreading."