A TWISTED horse-killer is being let out of prison on day-release — to play non-league football.
Robert Wesley, 23, slashed two horses at least two dozen times, leaving one dying in a pool of blood.
But the former Wolves youth player, who is serving a five-year sentence at North Sea Camp jail in Lincs, is being let out to play and train with Boston United.
Wesley has played three pre-season friendlies for the team, known as The Pilgrims.
On Tuesday night he came on as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat to local rivals Boston Town.
But last night animal rights groups were aghast that Wesley — described as “heartless” by a judge — was being let out to play football.
Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler said: “Until there is evidence his sickness has been dealt with, he should not be given the opportunity to be rewarded with perks like playing football.
“Horse-slashers are violent and dangerous, not only to animals but to other humans.”
Jan Creamer, chief executive of Animal Defenders International, added: “Letting him out to play football sends out the wrong message.”
In 2005, Wesley was sentenced to four years and nine months as part of a sophisticated gang that smashed open cash machines across the country, stealing £140,000.
He was later overheard in jail bragging about getting revenge on a “grass” by slashing his wife’s horses. Police bugged him and recorded him gloating about the attacks.
Wesley, of Rugby, Northants, was handed a further four months for damaging property — the most serious charge horse-killers can face. He is due out in ten months.
He is playing for Boston United as part of a Government-approved rehabilitation scheme for prisoners who are coming to the end of their sentences.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “The Government has developed resettlement regimes designed to improve the resettlement outcomes of prisoners coming towards the end of long sentences. All decisions are based on rigorous risk assessment.
“This regime provides prisoners with the opportunity to undertake unpaid community work.”
John Smales, chief executive of the International League for the Protection of Horses, said: “We would hope that this is part of Wesley’s rehabilitation process and will help prevent him treating horses or any other animals in such a horrific manner.”
Boston United — who used to be managed by former England star Paul Gascoigne, 40 — were last year relegated to the Blue Square North league after they went into administration.
General manager John Blackwell said: “Wesley is showing a lot of promise and is likely to be a squad player this season.
“The Prison Service has agreed he can come to our training nights and our games. He is delighted to be able to play.”