BY DEBBIE LEIGH A SHOCKING case of murder most horrid has stunned a quiet, close-knit community.
The victims, jolly little hat-wearing fellas, are usually found fishing, sitting on toadstools or befriending local (ceramic) wildlife, but at least one unfortunate duo have – by hands unknown – met a most untimely, sticky end.
They were discovered on a busy shelf surrounded by their pals – all "alive and well"– and were lying prostrate with knives in their backs and bright red "blood" trickling from their fatal wounds.
Shelly Oldfield, of Wakefield, was shopping with her elderly mother at Tong Garden Centre, Bradford, when they stumbled across the lifeless bodies – on sale for 9.99 each – and raised the alarm.
Mum-of-two Mrs Oldfield contacted the Yorkshire Evening Post and said she refused to shop there again until they were taken off sale.
She said: "In the right place it is probably a bit of fun but I don't think that place is a garden centre.
"In this day and age when we are living in a society of knives and guns being used the way they are, I find it disgusting to find a gnome with a knife sticking out of its back as I walk through the doors of what I have always thought of as a very lovely place to walk around."
Store manager Helen Thompson apologised for any offence caused, confirmed the YEP had bought the last two "stabbed" gnomes in stock and promised they would not be selling them again.
She said: "We do stock a vast range of gnomes and it came as part of a collection.
"I have got the store to get in touch with the supplier and we won't be stocking it any more.
She added: "I apologise if it has caused any offence."
Self-confessed gnome lover Ann Atkin provides a home for more than 2,000 of the stout little men in a charming woodland setting at The Gnome Reserve in Devon, which she set up 28 years ago.
Although they sell some "naughty gnomes" – including one bearing his buttocks, she said these unfortunate concrete characters "would be the last thing I would have for sale".
The 69-year-old said: "How could they?"
Her son Richard now runs the reserve, where families can borrow gnome hats and fishing rods so they blend in with the locals.
He said: "I suppose people either love them or hate them and if they hate them they might have one of these for a laugh – I can see what people might think is the funny side of it."
Tell us what you think!