STAFF at offices in Bournemouth were left horrified and in tears after watching three seagull chicks killed in front of them because they were deemed a health and safety risk.

The seagull family lived on the roof of Harold G Walker solicitors in Oxford Road, Bournemouth, and the young chicks had become favourites among staff in surrounding buildings.

But Harold G Walker decided they posed a health and safety concern and pest control officers were sent to kill them.

Amy Healey, a team leader in the neighbouring Lester Aldridge building, said: "What I saw was so upsetting. Several of us were crying.

"There are a lot of women on our floor and we've become very attached and broody over those chicks.

"I came back from lunch on Thursday to see a man standing over the nest.

"We thought he was just going to move them, but we soon realised he was strangling one of the chicks to death."

Workers from the Crown Prosecution Service next door were also watching as the dead chicks were thrown into a black plastic bag.

"The remaining chick was running around in fright and forced to jump on to a lower section of roof," said Ms Healey.

"I was completely devastated to have witnessed such violence and an act of such unjustified cruelty."

Dean Spiers, managing director of Prokill, said his officer carried out the cull in a legal manner.

"Pest birds such as urban gulls are known carriers of disease, including e-coli, salmonella and ornithosis.

"Having consulted both our client and our operative we are assured that Prokill have approached the task professionally and within guidelines issued under licence at all times."

But the staff who loved the chicks doubt the level of threat posed by one family of seagulls on a roof, and have called in the RSPCA to investigate.

"Many rescue centres would have come and collected the chicks and looked after them," said Ms Healey.

"If I knew what I was going to witness, I would have taken them home myself."

A spokesperson for Harold G Walker said: "This was carried out for the health and safety of staff, visitors and members of the general public.

"We regret any distress that may have been caused as a result of this necessary activity."