Category Archives: Wildlife crime

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

Poole, Dorset: Scott Cochrane

#TheList serial wildlife persecutor Scott Matthew Cochrane, born 09/11/1989, of 4 Yarrow Close, Poole BH12 4FL – found with dead rabbits, lurcher-type dogs and steel ball bearings

Scott Matthew Cochrane from Poole routinely hunts wild animals with dogs

Repeat offender Cochrane was back in court after breaching a five-year criminal behaviour order imposed in September 2015 after a video of him pulling the head off a live wood pigeon was uploaded to Facebook. He admitted being in possession of a wild animal and for hunting a wild mammal with a dog, an offence under Section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004.

Cochrane, whose Facebook account is riddled with boasts about his ‘kills’, is now prohibited from entering many rural areas in Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire. The areas include south of the A35 in the Purbeck and Dorchester area, rural northeast Dorset up to the M4 corridor in north Wiltshire and parts of the New Forest in Hampshire.

Scott Matthew Cochrane from Poole routinely hunts wild animals with dogs

This will prevent him from using routes such as the A338 from Ringwood into Wiltshire, A354 from Puddletown to Salisbury and A350 from Wimborne to parts of Wiltshire, which all feature in hotspots for such rural crime.

At 11.41pm on Saturday October 5, 2019, officers were called to a rural location in the Blandford area in relation to suspected poaching in fields. They located a van and saw two men – one of whom was the defendant.

There were two lurcher-type dogs with them and they had a high powered lamp. They were also found to be carrying dead rabbits. A search of their vehicle located a catapult and steel ball bearings, as well as further dead rabbits.

The new criminal behaviour order will last for three years.

Cochrane must not:

• Act or incite others to behave in an anti-social manner, that is to say a manner that causes harassment, alarm or distress to any persons.

• Use or incite others to use threatening, intimidating, insulting or abusive words or behaviour in any place to which the public has access.

• Be in possession of a wild animal, wild bird or part of a wild animal or bird living or dead.

• Be in possession of a catapult or shot, such as ball bearings, or to be in a vehicle with a catapult or such shot in a place to which the public have access or private land as a trespasser.

• Allow a dog under his control off a lead, except on private land with the land owners written permission.

• Be in a vehicle with a dog traditionally used for the purpose of hare and deer coursing, such as a Lurcher, Greyhound, Saluki, or a cross breed of these varieties unless travelling to an emergency vets appointment.

• Own dogs traditionally used for the purposes of hare and deer coursing such as Lurchers, Greyhounds, Saluki or a cross breed of these varieties.

Police Constable Claire Dinsdale, Rural Crime Co-ordinator for Dorset Police, said: “Coursing with dogs and poaching is a national priority for both rural and wildlife crime and there are many repeat victims across the UK.

“This issue is not about ‘one for the pot’ but part of a network of persistent criminals who will threaten and intimidate our rural communities if challenged and cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to crops, gates and other property.

“They train their dogs on rabbits, hares and even on deer, with no regard for the welfare of wildlife or their dogs and they are willing to travel vast distances into other counties.

“Dorset Police is part of the national strategy between 22 police forces, Operation Galileo, where civil and criminal powers will be used to prevent such offending by hare coursers and protect vulnerable victims.

“I hope this sends a clear message that coursing and other such crimes are not tolerated and we will take robust action against anyone suspected of such an offence.

“This now varied order is a first of its kind for rural crime, in that it bans the defendant from large areas of rural land across three counties and it restricts his ownership of certain dog breeds and cross breeds.”

Sentencing: eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months. Victim surcharge of £122 and £85 costs. The other man was given a caution. Three-year criminal behaviour order.

Southern Daily Echo

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire: Kimblewick Hunt Associates Ian Parkinson and Mark Vincent

#TheList Kimblewick Hunt terriermen Ian James Kirby Parkinson, born c. 1955, of Folly Farm, Lower Road, Haddenham, Aylesbury HP17 8TP, and Mark Anthony Vincent, born c. 1966, of Kennel Cottages, Kimblewick, Aylesbury HP17 9TA – pulled out a captive fox by its tail from an underground artificial sett and released it into the path of hounds

Ian Parkinson (left) and Mark Vincent of the Kimblewick Hunt dragged a captive fox from an artificial sett and threw her into the path of foxhounds
Ian Parkinson (left) and Mark Vincent of the Kimblewick Hunt dragged a captive fox from an artificial sett and threw her into the path of foxhounds

Ian Parkinson and Mark Vincent were found guilty of one count of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

Covert footage obtained by the Hunt Saboteurs’ Association in January 2019 appeared to show a fox being held captive, trapped in pipes underground.

The court heard that one man could be seen assembling a rod from pipes, which the association said was used to push the fox into position.

Mark Vincent is employed by the Kimblewick Hunt
Mark Vincent is employed by the Kimblewick Hunt

Another man then appeared to forcibly drag the fox out of the hole by its hind legs as the animal tried to squirm away, before letting it run loose.

Minutes later a pack of hounds were seen to run past, sniffing at the ground.

District Judge Kamlesh Rana said the men had “put this fox at substantial risk of further suffering”.

During their trial, prosecutor Peter Rymon said the men had “clearly placed” the fox “in the path of a hunt at the time the hunt was arriving” in the woodland in Moreton near Thame.

“The rodding caused it unnecessary suffering and pulling it out by the tail enhanced that,” he added.

Mr Rymon said animals rendered “under the control of man” had “enhanced rights and those rights are the person in control of it should not cause unnecessary suffering”.

It emerged that Vincent was the President of the Kimblewick Hunt, which operates in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire. He is also named as a local event coordinator in a hunt newsletter.

Martin Sims, director of investigations at the League Against Cruel Sports and former head of the police’s National Wildlife Crime Unit, said the case “provided clear evidence that the Kimblewick Hunt is flouting the hunting ban”.

District Judge Rana previously said the defendants’ actions were “deliberate and pre-mediated” but said during their sentencing that they “weren’t the brains of the operation”.

Sentencing: 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for a period of 12 months. 120 hours of unpaid work; 15 rehabilitation days. £113 victim surcharge each plus £960 in costs.

Daily Mail
BBC News

Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt Associates William Tatler and Sam Staniland

#TheList William Tatler, born c. 1973, of The Green, Idridgehay, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 2SJ, and Samuel Staniland, born c. 1987, of Hadleigh, Ipswich IP7 – for illegal fox hunting, with cubs being targeted.

Will Tatler (left) and Sam Staniland received pitiful fines after being filmed illegally hunting a fox
Will Tatler (left) and Sam Staniland received pitiful fines after being filmed illegally hunting a fox

Joint master Will Tatler and huntsman Sam Staniland admitted hunting a wild mammal with dogs at Spath Covert, in Sutton-on-the-Hill, Derbyshire, on October 2, 2018.

The men were charged under the Hunting Act 2004, which says people who illegally hunt foxes can be fined but not sent to prison.

Fox hunter Sam Staniland now of Hadleigh, Ipswich
Sam Staniland has since left the hunt and moved from Sudbury to Hadleigh near Ipswich

Both men are members of the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt (MSSH), which operates in East Staffordshire.

It was the second time people from MSSH have been prosecuted for fox hunting. Two other men from the hunt – Johnny Greenall and Glen Morris – were caught illegally hunting fox cubs in 2011.

The case against four other associates of the hunt was dismissed.

Charges against assistant terrierman Sam Stanley were dropped
Charges against assistant terrierman Sam Stanley were dropped

They were assistant terrier man Samuel Stanley, 25, of Burton Road, Needwood; terrier man Andrew Bull, 51, of Meynell Hunt Kennels, Ashbourne Road, Sudbury; whipper-in John ‘Ollie’ Finnegan, 33, of Gaddesby Lane, Kirby Bellars; and joint master Peter Southwell, 61, of Tolldish Lane, Great Haywood.

Terrierman Andy Bull also had the charges against him dropped
Terrierman Andy Bull also had the charges against him dropped

All six men had previously pleaded not guilty and were set to face trial, but Staniland and Tatler changed their plea to guilty before the trial.

The prosecution came after the League Against Cruel Sports filmed a fox being hunted and gave the footage to police.

League Against Cruel Sports investigator Roger Swaine captured the footage on 2 October 2018 at Spath Covert in Sutton-on-the-Hill, Derbyshire – the same area where two other men from the hunt were caught illegally hunting fox cubs in 2011.

Mr Swaine said they were “cub hunting”, which is when hounds are trained to hunt fox cubs.

“They were in the same place, it was the same hunt, doing exactly the same thing,” said Mr Swaine, who also filmed the previous footage.

He said he was “disappointed” by the fine.

“The problem is they are very well financed and they have a very good legal defence team,” he said.

“To receive just a fine for this barbaric activity shows the need to strengthen the Hunting Act, including the introduction of prison sentences,” he said.

Still from footage filmed by the League Against Cruel Sports showing a fox being illegally targeted by Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt associates
Still from footage filmed by the League Against Cruel Sports showing a fox being illegally targeted by Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt associates

In a statement issued through the Countryside Alliance, the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt said the Hunting Act was “a difficult and troublesome piece of legislation”.

“It is complex and open to misinterpretation,” the statement said.

“The Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt regrets that in this case some individuals were unable to show that they had fulfilled all the conditions of the relevant exemption, as set out in Schedule 1 of the Act.

“The Hunt confirms that moving forward it will continue to operate within the law, utilising both artificial trails and the exemptions provided in the Act.”

Sentencing: fined £535 and ordered to pay £150 towards legal costs.

Derbyshire Live
BBC News

Bodmin, Cornwall: Scott Milne

#TheList Scott Milne, born 24/02/1977 of 2 Higher Coldrenick Cottages, Helland, Bodmin PL30 4QE – illegally shot nearly 30 badgers outside of culling season and kept their carcasses in freezers.

Scott Milne from Bodmin, Cornwall, UK, illegally shot 29 badgers outside of culling season
Scott Milne

Scott Milne, owner of a field sports business named Cornish Country Pursuits, was arrested when police, forensics officers and firefighters raided a farm as part of an investigation into suspected wildlife crime and food hygiene offences.

The force swooped on a unit on an industrial estate in the Roche area on July 25, 2019, and spent several hours carrying out a thorough investigation in conjunction with Cornwall Council, Natural England and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

A raid was also conducted at the same time at Milne’s home address.

Milne was later charged with wilfully killing 33 badgers, possession of 37 dead badgers and failing to comply with conditions of a firearm certificate (not storing firearms securely).

He pleaded guilty to all three charges, although admitted killing only 28 badgers, which was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Alison May, prosecuting, said eight badger carcasses were found in a freezer at Milne’s home. A shotgun, two rifles and rounds of ammunition were also found inside Milne’s vehicles, which were unlocked.

At the Roche industrial unit officers found 29 badger carcasses inside a number of freezer units, as well as canisters of vermin control substance which were not properly kept, leading to the involvement of firefighters in the operation.

Wildlife killer Scott Milne owns Cornish Country Pursuits

Milne, who has been operating a field sports business for the past decade, admitted killing 28 of the badgers, which had died as a result of gunshot wounds.

After examination, it was found that some of the other badger carcasses in Milne’s possession had severe injuries consistent with a road traffic accident.

The court heard that Milne is licensed to shoot badgers during the cull season, but Milne admitted that the 28 badgers were shot outside of that time period, when he was not acting under his licence.

In police interview, Milne explained that his intention was to submit them during cull season for payment “to balance the books”.

Defending Milne, Michael Green said: “This is an unusual case in many ways. Mr Milne has built up an excellent relationship with nearby farmers, who have used him to control vermin and manage estates and farms.

“For landowners to allow someone with a firearm on their land, there is an element of trust there.

“He felt a pressure to meet badger cull targets to keep his licence, which contributed to him making the stupid decision to shoot badgers outside the cull period.

“It was also a lapse of judgement not to secure the vehicle [with the firearms inside] instead of bringing everything inside.

“The impact of this on his business will be catastrophic and his family will have to make considerable changes to make ends meet.

“Everything is changing for him. He knows he will lose his firearm certificate and that will have a considerable financial impact on him having to readjust.

“He has learnt a lesson from his arrest, his interview and appearing in court. That will continue to affect him. He was taking a chance and clearly took the wrong decision.”

Sentencing Milne, the chairman of the magistrates’ bench told him: “We were concerned with your reckless behaviour concerning storage of firearms and the potentially serious consequences for other people around.

“Although you were licensed to cull badgers these actions were done entirely outside of any licence period.

Sentencing: 18-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months; 150 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £322 in total.

CornwallLive

Gainsborough, Lincolnshire: Ryan Smith

#TheList badger baiter Ryan Michael Smith, born c. 1993, of Noel Street, Gainsborough DN21 2RY

Badger baiter Ryan Michael Smith from Gainsborough
Badger baiter Ryan Michael Smith from Gainsborough

Smith, who has previous convictions for violence and spent time in prison, pleaded guilty to interfering with a badger sett and attempting to kill a badger when he appeared before Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard how Smith was among three people who were spotted by a gamekeeper on land near Beckingham, Nottinghamshire.

Accomplices Dale Shields and Murphy Thorne were sentenced separately.

The gamekeeper suspected the trio were badger baiting – which is where a dog is sent into a sett to flush out the badger and attack it for the handler to then dig the badger out and kill it or take it away for it to be killed at a later date.

Police were alerted and Shields and Thorne were arrested close to the scene. Smith was arrested by police on the same day away from badger sett. He initially denied the offences but changed his plea ahead of a trial.

Officers found a six-foot hole had been dug into the badger sett and there were spades nearby. A net which is often used to capture badgers was also found.

Two dogs, wearing radio collars, were also seized and were taken to a nearby vets in Retford for treatment as they had facial and dental injuries. One dog was in a collapsed state at the scene due to exhaustion.

The RSPCA were alerted to the incident and inspector Keith Ellis began an investigation.

He called the help of an expert badger witness who said the badger sett was active and had been disturbed. No dead badger was recovered but Inspector Ellis said it is possible the badger had died in the sett.

A veterinary expert who examined both Patterdale Terriers said the facial wounds were consistent with them been involved in a fight with another animal of a similar size and stature.

Inspector Ellis said: “The gamekeeper said he could see the men jump into a six-foot hole which they had dug down into the badger sett so he called the police.

“When they attended the scene it was clear that the sett had been interfered with and there were spades nearby.

“The dogs were wearing radio-collars which are used so the owners can locate where they are underground and when the dogs locate the badger the handlers dig down and usually kill the badger.”

In mitigation, Smith said he had ‘tagged along with the other two’.

The forfeiture of the dogs into RSPCA care was ordered and both are doing well. They are due to be re-homed soon.

Sentencing: 18-week jail sentence suspended for two months; ordered to pay £415. Deprivation order on his dogs. Banned from keeping dogs for five years.

Gainsborough Standard

Thornhill, Dewsbury: Anthony Oakes

#TheList Anthony Steven John Oakes, born 08/09/1986, of 96 Edge Lane, Dewsbury WF12 0HB – left his dogs to suffer with serious facial injuries consistent with badger fighting.

Badger baiter Anthony Oakes from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, left his dog to suffer with facial injuries caused in a fight
Smirking and unremorseful animal abuser Anthony Oakes

Oakes, who together with partner Amy Lauren Auty, runs an outdoor clothing company called Oakes Outdoors Ltd, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the five dogs by failing to take them to a vet.

Badger baiter Anthony Oakes from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, left his dog to suffer with facial injuries caused in a fight

In February 2019, West Yorkshire Police and the RSPCA together executed two warrants in Dewsbury after intelligence was gathered about dogs being injured.

Badger baiter Anthony Oakes from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, left his dog to suffer with facial injuries caused in a fight

Five Patterdale terriers were found and seized from a property and all had serious injuries, mainly on their faces, consistent with badger baiting.

One of the dogs had a severely infected eye which had to be removed.

Sentencing: 200 hours of community service; fined £500. Disqualified from keeping dogs for two years. All five dogs were signed over to the RSPCA for rehoming.

West Yorkshire Police
Dewsbury Reporter

Welsh badger Baiting Ring: Christian Latcham, Jamie Rush, Cyle Jones and Tomas Young

#TheList badger baiters Christian Adam Latcham, born 02/09/87, of Cymmer Road, Porth CF39 9BE, Jamie Richard Rush, born 13/03/92 of Church View, Talgarth, Brecon LD3 0DG, Cyle Jones, born 09/11/87, of Cwrt Tarrell, Newgate Street, Brecon, Powys LD3 8ED, and Tomas/Thomas Young, born c. 1993, of East Pentwyn, Blaina, Abertillery, Monmouthshire NP13

South Wales badger baiters Tomas Young, Christian Latcham, Cyle Jones and Jamie Rush jailed after BBC undercover investigation
South Wales badger baiters Tomas Young, Christian Latcham, Cyle Jones and Jamie Rush jailed after BBC undercover investigation.

Latcham, Jones, Rush and Young were caught badger baiting by an undercover journalist working for BBC Wales. All four denied the charges against them, but were found guilty following a trial.

South Wales badger baiters Tomas Young, Christian Latcham, Cyle Jones and Jamie Rush jailed after BBC undercover investigation
Christian Latcham has 12 previous convictions for 24 offences, including for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

The four men loaded a pick-up van with shovels and dogs to go to a “pre-arranged” location to dig for badgers in the countryside.

South Wales badger baiters Tomas Young, Christian Latcham, Cyle Jones and Jamie Rush jailed after BBC undercover investigation
Tomas Young also has previous animal cruelty convictions.

Prosecutor Jon Tarrant said: “They were attempting to take a badger.”

The group did not know they had been joined by the undercover investigator – known as John.

South Wales badger baiters Tomas Young, Christian Latcham, Cyle Jones and Jamie Rush jailed after BBC undercover investigation
Cyle Jones has 13 previous convictions for 18 offences, including animal cruelty.

Giving evidence, a BBC researcher said Young introduced him to three other men before they set off on the hunt on March 24, 2018.

He said: “The discussions were that Thomas, Christian and two other individuals were going to West Wales to a pre-designated location and that they were going to be digging for badgers.”

He added that the men met at Latcham’s house where he had a garage transformed into “kennels” – with cages and dogs.

They then set off from the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, to Llanddewi Velfrey in Pembrokeshire.

The undercover investigator said the men discussed that they would “dig for billies/badgers” on the journey.

He said when the men arrived at a field they donned “wellies and country wear” and put collars on the dogs to track their whereabouts.

He said: “They explained to me what would happen when they put the dogs down into the tubes, as they called it. Into the set.

“They explained about monitoring the dog in the ground.”

The court heard that when the dog stopped underground the men began to dig.

He added: “When it stopped I was told that was when we would dig down.

“When we dug down there wasn’t anything with that dog.

“We repeated this cycle for a number of hours.”

The court heard that larger dogs were brought to the holes “in readiness” to attack the badgers.

One hole was so deep that Latcham’s head could not be seen above the ground as he stood in it.

South Wales badger baiters Tomas Young, Christian Latcham, Cyle Jones and Jamie Rush jailed after BBC undercover investigation

Christian Latcham has 12 previous convictions for 24 offences, including for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

Cyle Jones has 13 previous convictions for 18 offences, including animal cruelty.

Rush has eight previous convictions for nine offences and has previously been sentenced to two years in prison.

South Wales badger baiters Tomas Young, Christian Latcham, Cyle Jones and Jamie Rush jailed after BBC undercover investigation
Rush has eight previous convictions for nine offences and has previously been sentenced to two years in prison.

Of the four defendents only Rush gave evidence during the four day trial in front of District Judge Neil Thomas.

Judge Thomas said: “I have no difficulty coming to the unreserved conclusion, that he was not telling the truth.”

Badger baiter Jamie Rush
Jamie Rush shows precisely why he’s an inadequate little man …

When Cyle Jones was taken away, someone in the public gallery shouted “keep your head up love”, he was previously jailed in June 2019 for 18 weeks after admitting unnecessary cruelty to animals, relating to two dogs who were injured.

Sentencing: Latcham was jailed for 26 weeks, Jones and Rush for 22 weeks. Tomas Young was sentenced to 20 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months and will be subject to a curfew between 9 pm and 6 am. Young and Jones are already banned from keeping dogs for life and Latcham has an indefinite ban following a 2011 cruelty conviction.

South Wales Argus
BBC News
BBC report: the story behind the badger baiters’ convictions

Eastbourne/Polegate, East Sussex: Tyler Earwaker and Liam Smith

#TheList Tyler Rhys Earwaker, born c. 2000, of 32 Shalfleet Close, Eastbourne BN23 8DU & Liam Smith, c. 1999, of 43 Kensington Way, Polegate BN26 6FH – laughed as they set packs of dogs on captured wild rabbits

Convicted animal abusers Liam Smith (left) and Tyler Earwaker from East Sussex, UK
Convicted animal abusers Liam Smith (left) and Tyler Earwaker are only banned from keeping rabbits.

Earwaker pleaded guilty to six offences and Smith pleaded guilty to two. The pair were prosecuted by the RSPCA following an investigation which included examination of horrific mobile phone footage.

Animal abuser Liam Smith of Polegate, East Sussex, with friend Bobby King
Liam Smith (right) with friend and fellow persecutor of wildlife Bobby King. As far as we know King was not involved in this particular act of animal cruelty but his FB page contains several photos of animals he has killed, sometimes with a catapult.

RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport launched the investigation in May 2019 following a tip-off. She said, “When we checked [their] phones we found lots of videos of Earwaker and Smith releasing captured wild rabbits and setting their dogs on them.

“Some of the videos show the chase taking place across fields while others take place in fenced areas such as a basketball court and a children’s playground meaning the rabbits had no real chance of escape.

“It’s really upsetting to watch the footage and the rabbits must have been extremely distressed before being released. The chase would have been terrifying for them and the manner in which they were killed would have resulted in unnecessary suffering.”

The videos show the pair encouraging the dogs to chase down the rabbits – some of which are clearly in shock – and in one case the rabbits are kicked and thrown onto the ground.

Convicted animal abuser Tyler Earwaker of Eastbourne, East Sussex
Tyler Earwaker

A warrant was executed by police on May 14 at an address in Eastbourne. RSPCA officers joined police and a number of mobile phones were seized.

Five dogs were found at the premises – belonging to Earwaker’s family – and the RSPCA said all appeared in good condition. A number of hutches and cages were located in the garden, some with ferrets inside.

Inspector Lamport said, “We found long hunting nets, often used for catching animals, and a number of animal carriers in the shed and Earwaker told me he used the large trap for rabbits, using carrots as bait.

“Some of his coats were bloodstained and a number of phones and an iPad were seized.”

Four dogs – two lurchers and two terriers – were seized by police and Earwaker was interviewed.

Convicted animal abuser Tyler Earwaker of Eastbourne, East Sussex
Earwaker with his mummy

Inspector Lamport later received a call from Smith’s father claiming one of the dogs seized belonged to him.

She said, “Mr Smith told me he’d bought the terrier for his son, We discovered that his son, Liam Smith, had been going out with Earwaker rabbiting and ferreting.

“They were catching rabbits and ‘dropping’ them in front of their dogs for the dogs to chase in order to train the dogs they thought the latter was legal.”

The court determined the four dogs should be returned to their owners.

Sentencing:
Earwaker – 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from keeping rabbits for five years and ordered to pay £300 costs and £85 victim surcharge.

Smith – 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from keeping rabbits for five years and ordered to pay £300 costs and £85 victim surcharge.

Ayr: Mark Cuthbert

#TheList Mark Cuthbert, born 07/03/1977, of 82 Thornyflat Place, Ayr KA8 0NE – set his dogs on wildlife including badgers; bought cats online to use as live bait for his dogs; failed to get vet treatment for his dogs’ fighting injuries

Convicted animal abuser Mark Cuthbert from Ayr, Scotland

Mark Cuthbert pleaded guilty to keeping dogs for the purpose of an animal fight and killing a cat at home and at another premises.

Cuthbert used the selling website Gumtree to purchase the cats – with many owners believing their animals were going to a safe home.

Convicted animal abuser Mark Cuthbert from Ayr, Scotland

The Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit (SIU) received intelligence in March 2018 that Cuthbert had dogs for animal fighting. The SIU obtained a warrant to search Cuthbert’s address and, upon inspection, found his pets had injuries consistent with animal fighting.

They also suspected he had been self-medicating his dogs to avoid drawing attention to his illegal activities.

Investigators seized an electronic device that contained video and images of animal fights. The clips included Cuthbert’s dogs killing badgers and domestic cats.

Objects in the footage matched animal fighting paraphernalia discovered at his home. Among the items seized were tracking collars, nets, live animal traps, syringes, superglue, and pet carriers.

DNA analysis of these supported the case that many of the items were used for animal fighting.

The dogs involved in the case were black and white Patterdale terrier, Billy, and two brown female Patterdale terriers known as Digger and Tally.

Convicted animal abuser Mark Cuthbert from Ayr, Scotland pictured outside court
Coward: Mark Cuthbert pictured outside court

Cuthbert pleaded guilty to keeping dogs, cats and a rat for an animal fight contrary to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 under Section 23 (1) (a), for procuring cats for the purpose of animal fighting and arranging, participating and causing animal fights to take place under Section 23 (2) of the Act.

Convicted animal abuser Mark Cuthbert from Ayr, Scotland

Commenting on the investigation and court case, a Scottish SPCA undercover special investigation unit (SIU) officer said, “This is a truly horrific case of animal cruelty, where we suspect dozens of animals have suffered mentally and physically at the hands of Mark Cuthbert. His inhumane treatment of animals is completely unacceptable.”

“We investigate reports of animal fights every week and the imagery and videos we discovered on his phone are some of the most depraved and upsetting we have seen. One harrowing video shows the three dogs attacking a domestic cat in a field which is fighting for its life. It’s clear the cat was caused horrendous suffering and many of the cats he purchased will have suffered long, torturous deaths.

“Cuthbert had been picking up the cats for his dogs to attack from the online selling site, Gumtree.

“After contacting Gumtree, we found correspondence between Cuthbert and people who had listed their cats on the site which led us to believe large numbers of cats were uplifted from pet owners who trusted their cats were going to a good, safe home.

“As well as the cats he purchased under false pretence, his own dogs have been treated appallingly. When we visited Cuthbert, two of his dogs had very obvious facial injuries and scars to the face, nose and jaw. Digger had a healed injury to the lower lip which had caused a v-shaped deformity and Billy was very aggressive when approached.

“If you are using an online service to find a new home for, or sell, your pet, please be vigilant and ensure your pet is going to a safe environment. If you are suspicious, do not continue with the sale and notify the Scottish SPCA as soon as possible.”

The Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit are experts in investigating animal fighting offences and rely on information from the public to continue to put a stop to this horrific activity. All information shared with the Scottish SPCA can be treated with confidentiality and can be reported to the animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

Sentencing: ten months’ imprisonment. Ten-year ban on owning or keeping any animal.

Scottish SPCA News
STV News
Scottish Sun

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Additional information: Mark Cuthbert’s long-term live-in partner is Wendy McIlloney, born circa 1970. They have two older children together and she has others from previous relationships.

Wendy McIlloney
Mofher and grandmother Wendy McIlloney lives with convicted animal abuser Mark Cuthbert.

McIlloney makes no secret of the fact that she also enjoys hunting and neighbours have said that she accompanies Cuthbert on hunting/digging trips with their dogs.

Disturbingly, it is alleged that she procured cats on her boyfriend’s behalf. As yet, no charges have been levelled against McIIloney.

The pair are also backyard breeders of Staffies and lurcher-type dogs.

Gainsborough, Lincolnshire: Murphy Thorne and Dale Shields

#The List badger baiters Murphy James Ian Thorne, born 16/04/1997 of 5 Grey Street, Gainsborough DN21 2PS and Dale Shields, born 13/03/1997 of 3 Laburnum Avenue, Gainsborough DN21 1ET

Badger baiters Dale Shields (top right) and Murphy Thorne of Gainsborough and one of their injured dogs.
Badger baiters Dale Shields (top right) and Murphy Thorne of Gainsborough and one of their injured dogs.

Gainsborough men Murphy Thorne and Dale Shields pleaded guilty to interfering with a badger sett and attempting to kill a badger, when they appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard how the pair were among three people who were spotted by a gamekeeper on land near Beckingham, Nottinghamshire, on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 3pm.

Badger baiter Dale Shields from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, UK.
Badger baiter Dale Shields from Gainsborough.

The gamekeeper suspected they were badger baiting – which is where a dog is sent into a sett to flush out the badger and attack it for the handler to then dig the badger out and kill it or take it away for it to be killed at a later date.

He alerted the police who arrested Thorne and Shields close to the scene and the court heard how Thorne told police: “I don’t get paid for doing it, but do it as a sport and it is something I enjoy”.

A six-foot hole had been dug into the badger sett and both men had spades. They also had a net which is often used to capture badgers.

Badger baiter Murphy Thorne from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire UK
Badger baiter Murphy Thorne

Two dogs, wearing radio collars, were also seized from the men by police and were taken to a nearby vets in Retford for treatment as they had facial and dental injuries. One dog was in a collapsed state at the scene due to exhaustion.

The RSPCA were alerted to the incident and inspector Keith Ellis began an investigation.

He called the help of an expert badger witness who said the badger sett was active and had been disturbed. No dead badger was recovered but Inspector Ellis said it is possible the badger had died in the sett.

A veterinary expert who examined both Patterdale Terriers said the facial wounds were consistent with them been involved in a fight with another animal of a similar size and stature.

Badger baiter Dale Shields from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, UK.
Badger baiter Dale Shields

Inspector Ellis said: “The gamekeeper said he could see the men jump into a six-foot hole which they had dug down into the badger sett so he called the police.

“When they attended the scene it was clear that the sett had been interfered with and there were spades nearby.

“The dogs were wearing radio-collars which are used so the owners can locate where they are underground and when the dogs locate the badger the handlers dig down and usually kill the badger.”

A third man, who was arrested by police on the same day, denied the offences and his trial will take place at a later date.

The forfeiture of the dogs to the RSPCA was ordered and the animal charity will re-home them.

Sentencing: 18-week jail sentence suspended for 12 months; ordered to each pay costs and charges totalling £415. Five-year ban on keeping dogs.

Gainsborough Standard