Category Archives: Wildlife crime

Badger baiting, hunting with dogs, foxhunting, hare coursing, animal fighting

Southwick, Sunderland: Arron Crighton

#TheList poacher Arron Crighton, born c. 1997, of Kismet Street, Sunderland SR5 2LG – made shocking videos of his dogs brutally killing foxes; posted graphic photos and videos online showing horrific injuries suffered by both dogs and foxes

Arron Crighton from Sunderland set his whippet on wild foxes 'for sport'
Arron Crighton from Sunderland set his whippet on wild foxes ‘for sport’ and bragged on social media about it

Arron Crighton admitted offences under the 2001 Animal Welfare Act and 2004 Hunting Act after using his black whippet, Jet, to attack and kill foxes.

Whippet Jet suffered a catalogue of painful injuries after being forced to fight foxes by his sadistic owner Arron Crighton
Whippet Jet suffered a catalogue of painful injuries after being forced to fight foxes by his sadistic owner Arron Crighton

Police were alerted to a number of videos made by Crighton, which included footage of a dog fighting with a fox and a person appearing to hold the fox down with their foot.

A second video showed two dogs with their jaws locked around the fox’s neck and body, while a picture was also taken showing Crighton and others holding a dog which had a bloodied fox in his mouth.

After being made aware of the social media posts, police executed a warrant at an address on Kismet Street, Sunderland, and seized a mobile phone belonging to Crighton.

Arron Crighton from Sunderland set his whippet on wild foxes 'for sport'
Arron Crighton

Investigators discovered hundreds of shocking photos and videos showing the attacks and subsequent injuries of the animals saved on the phone.

Asked why he’d initiated the illegal activity in interview, Crighton responded “for sport”. He also claimed that if one dog was injured by the fox, he would “put another dog on”.

PC Peter Baker, of Northumbria Police, said: “The photographs and videos that Arron Crighton made are incredibly distressing and showed a total disregard for the welfare of these animals.

“Crighton took a great deal of satisfaction out of filming this barbaric and criminal activity and then posted the trophy pictures online.

“It is blatantly clear that he cannot be trusted to own an animal and ensure it is adequately protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. On this occasion, both Crighton’s own dog and the foxes suffered horrific injuries.

“This investigation was launched following information provided to police by a member of the public who saw the videos online and were rightly disgusted by them. I would urge anyone who sees poaching offences and cruelty of this type online to get in touch.

“This case should act as a reminder to all pet owners that anybody who fails to ensure an animal’s welfare is met could face criminal action. We would always ask anybody who witnesses cruelty or an animal in distress to contact the RSPCA direct or call 101.”

Jet– who was frightened but gentle in nature when officers located him– will also be re-homed.

Sentencing: to follow at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on 24 April 2019.

The Northern Echo

Ilkley, West Yorkshire: Austin Hawke

#TheList gamekeeper Austin Hawke, born 1967, of The Bungalow, Ling Park, Ilkley LS29 0EJ – killed a badger in a trap

A badger died a cruel and horrible neglect as a result of gamekeeper Austin Hawke’s cavalier attitude towards wildlife management

The badger had been lured to a ‘stink pit’ at High Denton Farm, near Ilkley, where dead and decaying animals are legitimately placed in a pile to lure vermin so they can be destroyed.

Austin Hawke – a head keeper of the Denton Park Estate, had denied failing to inspect a snare every day it remained in position. The offence was contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Hawke had set eight wire snares at four entrances to a 25 metre by 25 metre fenced off area of moorland before Easter 2018.

The aim was to lure foxes, the target species which Hawke had a licence from Defra to destroy, to the pit.

The square pit had four entrance holes cut into the fencing mesh with the snares placed nearby.

The pit was around 100 metres away from a footpath.

However, Hawke claimed the snares had been ‘deactivated’ on Good Friday (March 30, 2018) because he was conscious there could be an increase in visitors and walkers to the moorland over the Easter break.

The RSPCA is against the use of snares because they trap animals indiscriminately and cause tremendous suffering. Not that this would faze a gamekeeper like Austin Hawke

He said, generally, deactivating snares involved loosening the wire so the loop part, which the animals are snared by, is made smaller and wrapped around a ‘tealer’, a semi-rigid wire which holds the loop in the air at the correct height, and laying it down in undergrowth nearby.

On this occasion he admitted the snares had been left in situ but said the loops had been loosened and made so small as to prevent hares or badgers getting tangled in them.

He said the idea was to re-set them after a few weeks.

Prosecuting Rob Yates said the badger had been found by walker and bird watcher Andrew Jowett on May 28 last year.

The police were called to the site. Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire Police, said he attended the site, one kilometre north of High Denton Farm, on May 29. The dead badger was in one of the snares which was attached to a wooden stake in the ground and “looked as if it had been dead for several days”. He said it was in such an advanced state of decay that its innards fell away when it was raised from the ground. He said the snare had cut into the badger’s flesh.

Hawke acknowledged legislation required gamekeepers to check snares at least once every 24 hours but he argued that as he had deactivated them there was no reason to check them.

He said he had been a gamekeeper for 35 years.

He said when in use, the traps and snares are checked daily and any non-target species trapped in them, such as hares and badgers, are released.

“We don’t want to cause unnecessary suffering,” Hawke said, stating he regarded the capture of a non-target species as a ‘tragedy’.

He said he had made an inspection of the area prior to setting the snares and he had seen no evidence of badgers being present, which can be seen through their droppings or hair on fences.

Defending, Amber Walker said her client had an exemplary record as a game keeper and was skilled in his job and honest.

“The snares were not left in such a state they posed a threat to non-target species. Mr Hawke has said if he had not been sure of this he would have gone back to check,” she said.

She also claimed there was a possibility that animal rights activists could have been responsible in order to have the blame laid at the feet of the game keeper.

“Removing a head keeper (through conviction) would be quite a scalp (by some activists) even if it meant the death of a badger,” she said.

Mr Yates claimed it was unlikely that animal rights people who campaigned against animal cruelty and disapproved of capturing animals would set snares.

Instead, he said Hawke had left the snares in position and was under a legal obligation to check them every 24 hours.

Magistrates found Hawke guilty of the charge, but stated it was an ‘isolated act of negligence, rather than intent’.

Sergeant Kev Kelly, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force, said: “This case was reported following a member of the public who was aware of our proactive work under Operation Owl.

“From the evidence collected, it was apparent that the badger had suffered before it had eventually died after being caught in the snare. Therefore this case was fully investigated to ensure other animals didn’t undergo the same fate.

“If the defendant had been using breakaway snares it is less likely that he would have killed the badger.

“I am disappointed as we have been doing some really good partnership working with local Nidderdale keepers who want to show the public good practice and accountability.

“Hawke’s conviction will no doubt have an impact on how his profession is viewed. I think he has done his wider colleagues a disservice.”

Geoff Edmond, RSPCA National Wildlife Coordinator, said: “The RSPCA continues to work closely with the North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force and this result highlights the strength of partnership working under Operation Owl.

“This badger will have suffered a horrific and prolonged death having been snared in this way.

“The RSPCA is against the use of snares because they are indiscriminate in what they catch and they cause tremendous suffering. But while they remain legal we hope we can work together with the Police and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation to raise awareness of the good practice guide so as to improve accountability.”

Sentencing: 12-month conditional discharge. Costs and charges totalling £645.

Telegraph and Argus

Badger Baiters from Doncaster, Bridlington and Hull

#TheList Andrew Booth, born c. 1974, of West Road, Moorends, Doncaster; George Horner, born c. 1992, of 30 Brett Street, Bridlington; John Horner, born c. 1999, of 77 Constable Road, Bridlington; Kirk McGarry, born c. 1968, of Southfield Road, Thorne, Doncaster; Richard Willey, born c. 1972, of Westlands Road, Hull – used dogs to attack a badger sett

Cruel badger baiters Andrew Booth, Kirk McGarry, John Horner, George Horner and Richard Willey and terrier Paddy who suffered serious facial injuries

Andrew Booth, Kirk McGarry, John Horner, George Horner and Richard Willey used two dogs, one of whom was heavily pregnant, to attack a badger sett.

They were each found guilty of wildlife and animal cruelty offences at Beverley Magistrates’ Court.

Badger baiter John Horner from Bridlington
The youngest of the five convicted men: John-Joe Horner
Badger baiter Richard Willey from Hull
Richard Willey

On the afternoon of 30 December 2017 a concerned member of the public reported to the police that five men with dogs were digging into a badger sett at Melton in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Badger baiter George Horner from Bridlington
George Horner is a failed professional boxer

A number of officers including several wildlife crime officers quickly attended the location and found four men continuing to dig into what appeared to the officers to be an active badger sett.

Jess and Charlotte were found at the scene

Four terrier-type dogs were seized at the time of the incident. One dog, Paddy, was seriously injured and was lucky to survive. A second dog, Dizzy, was heavily pregnant when she was seized and gave birth to a puppy, named Romeo, who is now one year old. Two other dogs, Charlotte and Jess, were also seized. All five dogs have been kennelled and have responded well to the care and attention they have received.

Paddy nearly died from his injuries, which were consistent with badger fighting

Ch Insp Iain Dixon said: “Badger digging is a cruel and barbaric activity and involves horrendous suffering to both the badger and any dog involved.

“In this particular case one dog, named Dizzy, was very far into pregnancy, giving birth within a few weeks of the incident which shows the uncaring and callous nature of those involved all the more.”

Sentencing: the five men were sentenced to a maximum term of six months in prison. They have each also received three year Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) and were told to pay £2,000 costs for dog kennelling and vet’s fees. All are banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

BBC News

Carnforth, Lancashire: Joe Whittam

#TheList Joe Whittam, born 07/06/1990, of Langdale Road, Carnforth, Lancashire LA5 9AU – set his dogs on a pet cat and fox; failed to provide vet treatment for his injured dogs

Two photos of convicted animal abuser Joe Whittam from Carnforth, Lancashire.
Joe Whittam from Carnforth was jailed after filming “blood-curdling” videos of his dogs killing a cat and fox

Joseph Whittam, who also uses the surname Riding, pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act in relation to encouraging his two dogs to attack a cat and a fox, as well as failing to provide veterinary attention for the dogs themselves.

The RSPCA joined Lancashire Constabulary to execute a warrant at Whittam’s address in August 2017 after intelligence that suggested he was involved in wildlife crimes with his two dogs.

The dogs – a terrier called Rex and a lurcher called Zip – were removed by police and placed into the RSPCA’s care. A mobile phone was also seized and investigators discovered a number of shocking videos saved on the phone.

RSPCA special investigation officer Jason Bowles said: “In one video, the two dogs are going crazy, barking and snapping at the mesh of a trap with a black and white domestic cat inside.

“In a second video, the cat is released along with the dogs and the dogs grab the cat and literally start to rip it apart while the cat screams and cries in pain. It is horrific and absolutely blood-curdling. Many of our staff here at the RSPCA haven’t been able to stomach watching it.

“One of the magistrates had to leave court after watching the sickening footage.

“The cat was killed although we never found the body and never traced the poor cat’s owners.”

He added: “In another video, the dogs can be seen attacking and biting a fox. In all the footage Whittam can clearly be heard encouraging the dogs and egging them on.”

Rex and Zip both had old injuries – thought to be caused by their attacks – which had not been treated. They received veterinary care and remain in the RSPCA’s care. They will be rehomed once the case has concluded.

Further analysis of Whittam’s phone uncovered images of a dog being encouraged to attack a gerbil and still images of the fox attack which show the animal being baited by the dog.

Whittam claimed the fox had been shot and injured before his dogs got hold of it.

Lancashire Constabulary’s Sgt James Pinder said: “This investigation began as a result of community information in relation to animal welfare and poaching offences.

“I hope the investigation clearly demonstrates that we will work with our partner agencies and will deal with offenders in a robust manner.

“The sentence, which marks the end of a 16-month investigation, is welcomed by Lancashire Constabulary and we hope it will send a clear message to those who think it is acceptable to partake in these criminal activities.”

Sentencing Whittam at Preston Magistrates’ Court, the chairman of the bench said the offences were sustained, deliberate and gratuitous

Sentencing:
Jailed for 22 weeks; ordered to pay a total of £490. Disqualified from keeping animals for life. 

Westmorland Gazette

Cumbria: Richard Todd and Wayne Lawson

#TheList Wayne Lawson (DoB: 28/09/78) of Sheehan Gardens, Carlisle, Cumbria, and Richard Todd (DoB: 20/07/78) of Mills Road, Wigton, Cumbria – made a video as they tried to kill a badger by setting their dogs on it

Badger baiters Richard Todd and Wayne Lawson from Cumbria
Badger baiters Richard Todd (left and in green top in middle photo) and Wayne Lawson both from Cumbria plus Scooby the dog who had facial scarring consistent with animal fighting

Lawson and Todd admitted trying to kill the badger while Lawson also pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a black Patterdale terrier called Scooby.

Lawson failed to get  veterinary care for injuries to Scooby’s ear and lower lip.

The men were due to stand trial but after charges of interfering with badger setts and of causing an animal fight to take place were dropped, they admitted the attempt to kill.

Speaking after the sentencing, RSPCA officer Jason Bowles said: “We received intelligence that Mr Lawson was involved in badger digging and found two dogs at his property with extensive scarring and nasty injuries consistent with fights with badgers.

“We seized a mobile phone which had saved videos showing him and another man digging down to tunnels before placing the dogs underground to find the wild animals.

“This case really shows the suffering caused to the poor badgers who are hunted for fun as well as the dogs used in this barbaric blood sport. They are often left with hideous injuries and disfigurements and rarely receive appropriate veterinary treatment or pain relief.”

Sentencing:
Both – 140-day prison term, suspended for a year.

Lawson – 160 hours of unpaid work in the community. Disqualified from keeping dogs for four years. Total costs and charges of £1,415.

Todd – 100 hours of unpaid work in the community. Total costs and charges of £1,115.  Banned from keeping animals for two years.

News and Star

Gravesend, Kent: Julius Gadzor

 #TheList Julius Gadzor, born c.  1979, of Wellington Street, Gravesend, Kent  DA12 – trapped and kept wild birds by putting rat glue on feeders in his garden

Julius Gadzor from Gravesend is originally from Slovakia
Julius Gadzor from Gravesend is originally from Slovakia

Slovakian Gadzor admitted possessing wild birds and trapping them.

Officers from the Rural Task Force for Kent joined forced with the RSPCA on Thursday, June 14, 2018, to conduct a search of Gadzor’s home following a tip off they received from the RSPB.

A number of caged wild birds were seized as well as rat glue and other bird trapping equipment.

Some of the cages in which Julius Gadzor kept the wild birds he'd trapped

Gadzor was interviewed four days later where he admitted that he was trying to catch them illegally in his garden.

Sergeant Darren Walshaw, who co-ordinated the search, said: “This is an excellent example of partnership working. The intelligence received from the RSPB allowed us to gain enough information to request a search warrant and the case built by the RSPCA resulted in the man having to admit his guilt.

“Bird trapping is not only illegal, it is incredibly cruel. We are committed to working with our partner agencies to put these criminals, who illegally trap birds for their own financial gain, before the court.”

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “To take a wild bird from its natural habitat and shut it inside a tiny cage is so cruel. They suffer greatly in captivity, are not used to being in cages and, sadly, often die.

“All wild birds in England and Wales, their nests and their eggs are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and actions may only be taken under specific licences.’

“It is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to trap wild birds.”

Sentencing:
28-day curfew; total of £385 costs and charges. 

Metro
KentOnline

 

Meir, Stoke-on-Trent: Natalie Keenan and David Knight

#TheList Natalie Keenan, born c. 1989, and David Knight, born c. 1977, both of Sandon Old Road, Meir, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 – kept 23 pets – including a barn owl, a fox and a raccoon dog – inside a smelly and flea-ridden house of horrors

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors

David Knight pleaded guilty to five charges related to animal cruelty, while Natalie Keenan admitted four offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

The pair’s mini-zoo was discovered by chance when a utility company official went round to the Meir home to execute a warrant as they hadn’t paid their gas bill.

He alerted the RSPCA, who were confronted by the stench of neglect, with piles of dog poo in the kitchen, rotting chickens in a snake tank and animals covered in fleas.

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors

Other creatures – from pets to exotics to wild animals – were being kept in tiny filthy cages, with barely enough room to move and without ready access to water.

A raccoon dog kept in a foul cage by Natalie Keenan and David Knight from Meir, Stoke

One terrier-type dog, called Lexi, was in such a poor condition that she had to be put to sleep.

Hazel Stevens, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said Lexi was experiencing ‘significant suffering’. She was virtually blind, emaciated with protruding bones, had little fur and an infected tumour that was hidden underneath a ‘foul-smelling mess’.

The dog was found curled up on a pile of dirty nappies and had to be carried out of the house as she couldn’t walk.

The couple also had:

  • another dog, Mocha the French bulldog
  • a cat called Gizzy, who both had skin and flea problems;
  • a barn owl caged up in a bedroom
  • a fox living in a cage in another room;
  • a racoon dog
  • a rat
  • a bearded dragon
  • five snakes
  • eight degus;
  • and an African grey parrot called Charlie.

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors
Lexi was in such poor condition she had to be put to sleep

RSPCA Inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “When I arrived at the property the couple wouldn’t let me inside so I waited outside for over two hours until police arrived.

“During that time the family carried bin bag after bin bag of rubbish out of the house.

“When I finally went inside it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Even though they’d been clearing out for two hours it was still absolutely filthy and the animals were being kept in horrifying conditions.

“There was cage after cage and animal after animal. The rooms were strewn with rubbish, all of the animals’ accommodation was filthy and their welfare needs were clearly not being met.

“It was disgusting and it was mass-scale neglect.”

The other animals remain in RSPCA care and can now be rehomed or moved to suitable keepers.

“Many of these animals simply shouldn’t be kept as pets let alone kept like this,” Inspector Melvin added.

“To see these poor animals living in such squalor was heartbreaking. I’m just glad they can all now have a second chance at find loving new homes where their needs will be properly catered to.”

Sentencing: 12-month community order including a 30-hour rehabilitation requirement. Total of £235 each in costs and charges.  Both were disqualified from keeping animals for three years.

Stoke Sentinel
Signal1

Chesterton, Cambridge and Slough, Berkshire: James Crickmore, John Jefford, Denny Loveridge and Mark Loveridge

#TheList serial hare coursers James Crickmore, John Jefford, Denny Loveridge and Mark Loveridge all of Cambridge – all are now bound by a 3-year court injunction not to enter Cambridgeshire during the hare coursing season

Cambridge hare coursers

Mark Loveridge, 38, of Milton Place, Horton, Slough, was suspected of 13 hare coursing incidents. He must not own a sighthound or drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle during hare coursing season.

Gypsy traveller and hare courser Mark Loveridge from Slough has a taste for animal cruelty
Gypsy traveller and hare courser Mark Loveridge from Slough has a taste for animal cruelty

John Jefford, 42, of 125/127 Scotland Road, Cambridge CB4 1QL was suspected of 13 hare coursing incidents. He must not own a sighthound or be in the company of another person with one.

Denny Loveridge, 38, of Mill Place Caravan Park, Datchet, Slough was suspected of 17 incidents. He must not own a sighthound or drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle during hare coursing season.

Hare courser Denny Loveridge, another gypsy traveller from Slough
Hare courser Denny Loveridge, another gypsy traveller from Slough

James Crickmore, 38, of 2 Sunningdale, Fen Road, Cambridge CB4 1UN was suspected of 26 incidents. He must not own a sighthound or be in the company of another person with one.

Serial hare courser James Crickmore of Sunningdale, Fen Rd, Cambridge CB4
Serial hare courser James Crickmore of Sunningdale, Fen Rd, Cambridge CB4

All four are bound by an injunction handed down by a county court judge in a successful case brought by Cambridgeshire police.

The injunctions will mean the men cannot enter any farm land in Cambridgeshire during the months of the hare coursing season (31 July to 31 March) for the next three years.

The men were caught by police using a new database designed to track and convict suspected hare coursers.

A police spokesman said: “The judge was satisfied that he had heard evidence showing the men had been involved in hare coursing over a two year period and therefore handed the men injunctions.”

Related image

PC Gareth Tanner said: “This is an excellent result for the rural community and one of the first of its kind. I’m confident that the conditions granted will be effective.

“This has been a considerable piece of work, both due to the complexity of the tactics used, and the amount of evidence presented at court because of the sheer persistence of these individuals.

“Hare coursing costs the farming community thousands every year in damages to crops and land, as well as the obvious cruelty issues.”

Cambs Times

Wigan, Greater Manchester: Lee Evans and Ryan Ryder

#Exposed for wildlife persecution: Lee Evans and Ryan Ryder, Wigan

Here we have permanently drunken feral savage Lee Evans and convicted sex offender Ryan Ryder, both of Wigan, who share a common interest in persecuting wildlife. Often seen with dogs in the Three Sisters area of the town, these lazy, useless and sexually incontinent slobs are notorious for torturing rabbits, foxes and badgers. Their dogs bear the scars of being forced into fights with wildlife. It is believed they are also responsible for the deaths of several cats, so they are all-round stinkers.

Squinty-eyed unemployable piss-head Evans of Derwent Road, Ashton in Makerfield, is well known to the RSPCA and has had at least one dog seized from him but refuses to change his barbaric ways. His addiction to seeing living creatures ripped apart limb from limb is just too strong.

In 2012 Evans’ partner in wildlife crime (though there are several others that may yet be exposed – your turn will come, make no mistake) Ryan Ryder, of Hunter Rd, was convicted of sexually assaulting a 40yo woman – a complete “stranger to him – as she was walking home after a night out. He fled the scene, leaving his victim seriously injured on the ground, but was identified by his DNA and convicted. He is now on the sex offenders register for life. Ryder now focuses his innate aggression on animals.

And despite all this both men have girlfriends. Not nice girls, you understand. I mean, how could they be?

Article originally published on the Pet Abuse UK Facebook page

Bridgwater, Somerset: Scott Ayres

#TheList Scott Ayres (also known as Scott Pope), born 09/06/1992, and partner Leanne Hodge, born 11/05/1995, both of Haygrove Park Road, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 7BT – failed to seek veterinary treatment for a dog’s wounds

Dog abuser Scott Ayres/Pope from Bridgwater, Somerset, and an image of a 'working' dog taken from his FB profile
Dog abuser Scott Ayres/Pope and an image of a ‘working’ dog taken from his FB profile

Scott Ayres and his partner in pet abuse Leanne Hodge

Ayres and Hodge were found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a Patterdale terrier named Archie after not seeking veterinary care for wounds to his head, body and injured jaw.

Archie has made a full recovery since being rescued by RSPCA officers

Patterdale terrier Archie was discovered with his lower jaw degloved and puncture wounds to his face and body when he was rescued by the RSPCA in October 2017.

Archie was discovered with his lower jaw degloved and puncture wounds to his face and body when he was rescued by the RSPCA in October 2017.

Whilst no explanation for Archie’s injuries is given or even appears to have been investigated, there is evidence from Ayres’ Facebook profile that he enjoys inflicting suffering on wild animals such as foxes or badgers. The photo of the black lurcher and the shovels is taken from Ayres’ profile and he is a member of several ‘working dogs’ groups.

Archie has since recovered from his injuries during his time in the care of the RSPCA.

Sentence:
Ayres – suspended 12-week prison sentence. Community work. Total costs and charges of £415. Hodge – 16-week curfew order. Both were disqualified from keeping dogs for ten years (expires September 2028).

SomersetLive