An 11-year-old boy is "very shaken up" and suffered cuts to his neck after riding into a wire strung across a path next to his school as he cycled home from Scouts.
The boy was pulled from his bike backwards, his helmet cracked by the impact with the road, and left with cutting across his neck by the act his father says they "do feel was deliberate to cause serious harm".
Corin Earland posted pictures of his son's injuries on Facebook and warned of the shocking incident, which happened on Monday evening as the boy cycled home along the path between his school, Heyford Park, and the Heyford Park Innovation Centre on East Castle Street.
"He rode straight into it cutting across his neck and causing him to fall backwards off his bike, fortunately he was wearing his helmet correctly so that took the brunt of the fall damage," Mr Earland said.
"He is a very shaken up 11-year-old boy. If anyone has any CCTV footage of people acting suspiciously in the area around that time it would be appreciated.
"Why would someone do this? It could have caused a very serious injury if it had been anchored better."
The wire has since been removed and Thames Valley Police is investigating. The path was clear when the boy cycled to Scouts a couple of hours before the incident, so the family believes it was strung up that evening and questioned Dorchester Living, the developer of Heyford Park, about a "growing trend" of anti-social behaviour.
"The developers Dorchester Living is aware but seem unwilling to provide any provisions for teenagers. There was a youth club building a few years back but that has been knocked down and no alternative space provided," the father told the Oxford Mail.
A spokesperson for the developer said it had been in contact with the family and called the incident a "very rare" act of vandalism "with malicious intent".
"We are very concerned by this act of anti-social behaviour which is now being investigated by the police," they commented. "We have been in contact with the child’s family concerning their welfare. The health and safety of residents and staff has and always will be our number one priority.
"We want to assure the residents of Heyford Park that this incident was not a result of building contractors leaving the area in an unsafe manner, but due to an act of vandalism seemingly by persons with malicious intent, and we are supporting the police with their investigation.
"We have invested in and improved facilities considerably since our ownership. We have spent in excess of £30m on new facilities including play areas, sports pitches, a bowling alley, indoor sports hall, indoor performance drama studio, IT and art rooms, as well as building a new all-through school to provide children of all ages with activities for advancing themselves and socialising across Heyford Park.
"Further provisions will come forward as Heyford Park continues to grow. We very much hope the child affected by the incident recovers quickly and will work tirelessly with parent groups, local schools and other community groups to help reduce the risk of any repeat incident."
Thames Valley Police is investigating and has asked anyone with information to contact the force on 101 or make a report online, quoting reference number: 43240057495.
Depressingly we have reported an increase in cyclists being injured by wire traps, often strung across bridleways or off-road routes, in recent times. In July, Wiltshire Police said potential injuries could have been "catastrophic" after a 14-year-old mountain biker rode into a barbed wire trap strung between two trees at Salisbury Plain.
Perhaps most shockingly was an incident in December 2021, in the Rhondda Valley, which left a cyclist needing 17 stitches in their neck after riding into a barbed wire trap on a trail near Gelli.
*WARNING: Reader discretion advised, graphic images*
Other injuries and near misses have been reported across the United Kingdom, a Berkshire cyclist fortunately able to stop in time after spotting this rope and bramble trap on a popular bridleway in September.
In February 2023, a North Wales cyclist was seriously injured, and suffered broken ribs and collarbones, by a length of wire strung across a cycle path.
Around the same time, police in Staffordshire warned cyclists and walkers to be "extra vigilant" after a similar wire trap was found at Cannock Chase forest, an area popular with mountain bikers.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.