Police believe an elderly Jehovah’s Witness, who had a tripwire tied across his front door, was the victim of a hate crime.

Peter Baker, 72, of Ladyfield Road, Chippenham, is disabled and was only saved from smashing his face on the ground because his walking aid touched the wire before he did.

Police are investigating the incident on Sunday, June 29, as an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm and said they were concerned Mr Baker and his wife Mary had been persecuted for their beliefs.

Mr Baker fractured his back in three places earlier in the year and said another fall could leave him completely immobile.

The offender ripped clematis trellis from the Bakers’ house wall, took the washing line that had tied it up and fixed it at a low level across their door.

They also left a dent in the bonnet of their car that will cost about £1,000 to mend.

Mr Baker, who used to work as a farmer at Sandy Lane, said: “It was frightening. It was only the Zimmer frame that saved me. When you sit back and think about it I’m so lucky. The doctor said the least little fall and it (his back) will definitely break again.”

He said they had no idea who could be responsible.

Mrs Baker, 65, said: “I still get tearful. I just don’t understand why they’re picking on us all of a sudden when we haven’t done anything.

"We do go door to door, not to force people to change religion, just to teach them what the Bible offers.”

She said it had made their faith even stronger.

“They persecuted Jesus so this happening builds your faith up,” she said.

Mrs Baker heard a bang between 10pm and 11pm on the Sunday, which may have been the car being damaged.

PC Georgina Romani said: “This is a very serious incident; we are treating it is a hate crime on an elderly couple.

"Had they tripped on the wire, they could have been seriously injured.”

Call police on 101 if you have any information.