Thursday, January 12, 2012

Four Jailed Over 'Barbaric' Badger Baiting

Four badger baiters who laughed and joked as their dogs ripped apart a heavily pregnant badger in a field near York have been jailed

By Gerard Tubb, from Sky News

Scarborough Magistrates Court heard how a group of six men and a teenage boy encouraged their dogs to dig out and kill two badgers from a sett on farmland at Howsham in January last year.

The mutilated bodies of the badgers were found, along with a tail of a third badger and three unborn badger cubs scattered across the field.

The gang had used terriers to find the badgers in their sett, then dug them out and thrown them to powerful lurchers crossed with pit bulls or bull mastiffs.

Alan Alexander, 32, Richard Simpson, 37, Paul Tindall, 31, all from York, and 26-year-old William Anderson, from Pickering, will each spend 16 weeks behind bars after they were found guilty of wilfully killing a badger, hunting a mammal with dogs, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett.

Two other men, Christopher Holmes, 28, and Malcolm Warner, 28, both from York, were given 12-week sentences suspended for 12 months after pleading guilty to similar charges.

A 17-year-old, who cannot be identified because of his age, was given a youth rehabilitation order with 12 months supervision.

The gang was caught in the act by wildlife artist Robert Fuller after he heard the sound of dogs barking excitedly and a badger squealing in distress and went to investigate.

Mr Fuller photographed the men as they used 13 dogs and five guns on their organised badger baiting trip, the court heard.

District Judge Kristina Harrison described the men's behaviour as "barbaric" and "abhorrent".

She said the sentences were intended "as a clear signal" to anyone who was deliberately cruel to badgers.

North Yorkshire Police Sergeant Paul Stephenson praised the judge for her strong stance.

"The judge has given a verdict here that represents what the public think in relation to the horrific and barbaric acts that took place," he said.

RSPCA Inspector Geoff Edmonds said it was the worst case of badger baiting he had seen in over two decades.

The court was told that between them the six adults had previous convictions for 34 offences and one caution.

Firearms licences held by three of the men have been revoked and North Yorkshire Police say they will not be allowed to own guns in the future.

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