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Four jailed for "barbaric" badger baiting
FOUR men who laughed as dogs tore badgers to pieces near York have been jailed.
District Judge Kristina Harrison called the men's actions "barbaric" and "abhorrent" and said she was sending a clear signal to anybody involved in such activities that they would be sent to prison.
Scarborough Magistrates' Court heard today that six men and a teenage boy dug out and killed two badgers from a sett on farmland at Howsham in January last year.
Sobia Ahmed, prosecuting, said dogs played tug-of-war with one of the badgers before it was shot in the head and slung into undergrowth, while a pregnant badger was torn to pieces and bled to death.
Alan Alexander, 32, and Paul Tindall, 31, both of Bramham Grove in Chapelfields in York; Richard Simpson, 37, from Wain's Road in Dringhouses; and William Anderson, 26, of Cropton Lane in Pickering, were jailed for 16 weeks after being found guilty of wilfully killing a badger, hunting a mammal with dogs, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett.
Alexander and Simpson were also convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Two other York men, Christopher Holmes, 28, of Bell Farm Avenue and Malcolm Warner, 28, of Princess Drive off Boroughbridge Road, were given 12-week custodial sentences suspended for 12 months.
They had pleaded guilty to wilfully killing a badger, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett.
A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a youth rehabilitation order after he was also found guilty of wilfully killing a badger, hunting a mammal with dogs, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett. He must also attend training sessions run by the RSPCA.
Sentencing the men and the teenager, Ms Harrison said: "The people of Yorkshire will not tolerate badger baiting in their midst. It's barbaric, it's abhorrent and anyone convicted of this kind of offence will receive a custodial sentence."
Yorkshire wildlife artist Robert Fuller, who took secret photos of the culprits at the scene and who was commended by the judge, said: "Hopefully this case has highlighted the awful fact that badger baiting still takes place.
"I'm afraid that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that there are people who breed dogs such as those involved in this case, specifically to hunt large wild animals.”
He said it wasn’t easy giving evidence, but said: “I'd do it again if I had to."
Sgt Paul Stephenson, who also won a high commendation from the judge last month, called it an excellent result, and said: “We are determined to stamp out such horrific and barbaric crime."
RSPCA inspector Geoff Edmund said: "I was responsible for removing the carcase of the pregnant badger which had been tortured by the dogs. It was the case of its kind I've dealt with in 20 years."
Jean Thorpe, the Norton badger welfare leader, said she was "absolutely delighted" with the sentences.
The court previously heard that three badgers and four unborn cubs were killed in their baiting.
The men were caught by the police as they made their getaway in two Land Rovers. Mr Fuller and a friend with him had tipped the police off on what they had seen after they had taken the photographs had been taken of the attacks.
No excuse for such cruelty
BADGERS are one of the few large wild animals left in this country. With their secretive ways and distinctive striped faces, this makes them one of our best-loved wild creatures.
Not by everybody, however. There are genuine concerns about badgers and bovine TB. In some parts of the country, controlled culling is permitted for that very reason.
But there is a great difference between that and badger baiting. That is a blood sport, pure and simple: and a particularly cruel and barbaric one.
It is also illegal, as four local men learned to their cost yesterday when they were jailed for 16 weeks each. Two other men and a teenage boy received non-custodial sentences.
They were all members of a gang which dug out two badgers from a sett on farmland near Howsham.
Their dogs played tug-of-war with one of the animals, before it was shot in the head. A pregnant badger, meanwhile, was torn to pieces.
Sentencing the group at Scarborough magistrates court, district judge Kristina Harrison described badger baiting as a ‘barbaric sport’.
“Anyone convicted of this kind of offence will receive a custodial sentence,” she said.
True lovers of country life will surely welcome these tough sentences. Perhaps the best thing about them – apart from their obvious deterrent effect – was the youth rehabilitation order imposed on the teenager. This requires him to attend training sessions run by the RSPCA.
We hope he learns something.