THIS is one of the shocking images of a man in Clayton-le-Moors who appears to be biting the head off a live chicken.
The man, referred to as Crums, was filmed by laughing and sniggering pals as he ripped his teeth through the bird's neck and spat its head out.
One of the onlookers, known as Zagzam, then posted the grotesque scene on video-sharing Internet site YouTube, where it has been seen by hundreds of shocked people.
But because of a loophole in the law the RSPCA may be unable to prosecute even if the offender is caught.
The bird is believed to have been stolen from the Sparth Manor pub on Sparth Road.
Landlord Ron Townson said: "We had a chicken that was found dead. I thought at first that a fox had got in and pulled its head off but apparently it hadn't .
"We didn't know about the footage until Sunday night. It's disgusting."
In an attempt at sick humour, the video is given the taglines: "Who feels like chicken tonight?" and "Finger lickin' sick" which parody TV adverts.
After horrified YouTube watchers left messages of complaint on the site, calling the men "sickos" and saying they deserved to be locked up, Zagzam replied by giving the excuse that he was drunk.
He said: "How can you call us a set of sickos? It's you who watched the vid, you must have been looking for it.
"Who's the saddest of them all? Them that did something sick while intoxicated or you who is stone cold sober searching for sick material like this?
"We are from North West England and drunk in Clayton-le-Moors one sunny day. Go buy yourself a life."
The RSPCA said that it may be powerless to act because decapitation is a recognised method of killing chickens, albeit by machine in an abattoir.
RSPCA Inspector Dave Anforth said: "We are trying to find ways of pursuing the matter but this is the problem we have with poultry. If they had killed it in any other way we would have had straightforward grounds to proceed with a prosecution.
"The RSPCA is appalled by the act and condemns anybody that took part in this, whether by watching or taking part.
"People going online to watch it are just as bad. They perpetuate this sort of thing."
Police are investigating the matter and the Observer has passed on information uncovered during our research.
Anyone with information, or who can identify the people, is asked to call the police on 0845 1253545.
- THE stunt echoes an incident in which wild man rocker Ozzy Osbourne infamously bit the head off a bat during a concert.