Category Archives: badger baiting

Caldicot/Blaina/Brecon, Wales: Ryan Harrison, Tomas Young and Cyle Jones

#TheList Ryan Harrison, born c. 1994, of Masefield Road, Caldicot, Monmouthshire NP26 4JY, Tomas Young, born c. 1993, of East Pentwyn, Blaina, Abertillery, Monmouthshire NP13, and Cyle Jones, born 09/11/1987, of Cwrt Tarrell, Newgate Street, Brecon, Powys LD3 8ED – for the barbaric persecution of wildlife, which included skinning alive a baby badger, and cruelty including violence to dogs

Welsh badger baiters Tomas Young, Cyle Jones and Ryan Harrison
Clockwise from the left Tomas Young, Cyle Jones and Ryan Harrison

Ryan Harrison, Cyle Jones and Tomas Young were jailed for badger baiting and animal cruelty following a probe by a BBC Wales TV programme.

Welsh badger baiter Cyle Jones
Cyle Jones

The court was told that an RSPCA inquiry was launched following an undercover investigation by BBC Wales Investigates. The programme entitled The Secret World of Badger Baiters was shown in May 2018 and is currently available to watch on YouTube.

Following the programme’s broadcast warrants were executed at the addresses of the three individuals identified, being Young, Harrison and Jones

Welsh badger baiter Ryan Harrison
Ryan Harrison

A phone seized from Harrison contained numerous videos, text messages and images depicting hunting and animal cruelty offences. Video clips alone amounted to 447 with the majority of the material extreme in its nature.

The animal cruelty footage showed wildlife being killed and dogs with extensive injuries from being used to hunt animals. The voice of Harrison was heard and there were videos and pictures showing Young.

The RSPCA special operations unit also were able to view footage obtained by the BBC.

One particular horrific incident involved a baby badger which had been skinned alive by dogs.

The badger’s skin was split down the middle and pulled back from the body.

Shortly after the baby badger is seen to be still alive and is killed by Young hitting it with a shovel.

District Judge Neil Thomas described the trio’s offences as “medieval barbarity”.

Welsh badger baiter Ryan Harrison
Ryan Harrison

Harrison and Young pleaded guilty to six joint offences in that they did wilfully kill, injure or take a badger on four different occasions.

They also admitted attempting to take or kill a deer in the Forest of Dean, and causing unnecessary suffering to a boar by letting it be attacked by dogs and by stabbing the animal with a knife.

Harrison also pleaded guilty to another nine offences.These were:

  • Attempting to take or kill a deer
  • Attempting to wilfully kill, injure or take a badger on two occasions
  • Causing unnecessary suffering to a terrier dog called Ted by failing to obtain professional veterinary care for injuries to the dog’s lip and chin
  • Causing unnecessary suffering to a terrier by failing to obtain professional veterinary care for injuries to the dog’s chin area
  • Causing unnecessary suffering to a boar by causing the said animal to be attacked by dogs and by stabbing the said animal with a knife
  • Causing unnecessary suffering to terrier called Brock by failing to obtain professional veterinary care for injuries to the dog’s neck area
  • Two other charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a boar, by causing the animal to be attacked by dogs
Welsh badger baiter Cyle Jones
Cyle Jones

Jones admitted two charges of unnecessary cruelty to animals, relating to two dogs that were injured.

He was given a custodial sentence because he was not allowed to keep dogs, having been previously convicted of having a dog dangerously out of control.

Welsh badger baiter Tomas Young
Tomas Young

In their defence, the men said they had grown up with countryside pursuits.

There was no mitigation, said the judge, as far as he could see.

“The absence of remorse was obvious,” he said.

Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: “The RSPCA’s special operations unit has to investigate some truly gruesome acts on animals. But the prolific nature of these horrific crimes are some of the worst I – and my inspectors – have ever had the displeasure of witnessing.

“This barbaric, deliberate and calculated torture has caused wildlife and dogs to suffer immeasurably, solely for the sadistic pleasure of a handful of depraved individuals.

“BBC Wales’ initial work on this case was very important, and firmly in the public interest – paving the way for the RSPCA to undertake this investigation and bring these perpetrators to justice.

“Sadly, people who enjoy inflicting such pain and suffering on wildlife continue to offend in Wales. The RSPCA will not rest in bringing people like these to justice.

“As well as BBC Wales, we’d also like to thank the police forces who assisted us on this case – Gwent Police, South Wales Police, Dyfed Powys and Gloucestershire Police.”

Sentencing: Ryan Harrison was jailed for 22 weeks, Thomas Young got 20 weeks and Cyle Jones was given 18 weeks. All three defendants were banned from keeping dogs for life.

BBC News
South Wales Argus

Cowbridge, South Glamorgan: Molly Rose

#TheList Molly Rose (aka Molly Price or Molly Rees), born c. 2001, of Ystradowen, Cowbridge, South Glamorgan, Wales CF71 – exposed for illegally hunting badgers and foxes with dogs in a 2018 BBC documentary

Teenager Molly Rose of Cowbridge in Wales glorifies illegal hunting with dogs on social media and participates in it herself
Teenager Molly Rose of Cowbridge in Wales glorifies illegal hunting with dogs on social media and participates in it herself

In May 2018 current affairs programme BBC Wales Investigates exposed the brutal reality of illegal hunting with dogs. ‘The Secret World of Badger Baiters‘ showed undercover reporters infiltrating two gangs: one led by Christian Latcham of Tonypandy, who had already been successfully prosecuted for the crime in 2011 and banned from keeping dogs indefinitely, and the other by Tomas Young of Blaina, Abertillery who was convicted alongside Ryan Harrison of Caldicot and Cyle Jones of Brecon in June 2019.

Teenager Molly Rose of Cowbridge in Wales glorifies illegal hunting with dogs on social media and participates in it herself

A reporter posing as someone wanting to get into digging spoke on the telephone with self-proclaimed “Terrier Queen” Molly Rose. Rose, who has links to the travelling community, runs two Facebook groups dedicated to terrier-work and regularly posts photos and videos of her own pack of working dogs to her thousands of followers.

Molly Rose's dog Stan displays injuries typically caused in badger fights
Molly Rose’s dog Stan displays injuries typically caused in badger fights

One of Rose’s dogs – Patterdale terrier Stan – whom she claims has been on 35 digs, has injuries to his lower jaw that are typically seen on a dog that has been in a fight with a badger.

Using the name ‘Aaron’ the reporter asks Rose for advice on the best type of dog to get for digging work. It’s not long before she starts talking about illegal hunting, telling Aaron that the choice of dog depends on whether he’s going to be digging for foxes or badgers.

Teenager Molly Rose of Cowbridge in Wales glorifies illegal hunting with dogs on social media and participates in it herself

She talks about the possibility of “digging a dog dead” and admits that she has “dug two dogs dead this season” [we think this means the dog becomes trapped underground and suffocates].

Molly Rose's dog Stan displays injuries typically caused in badger fights

At this point she admits that a badger had ‘scrammed’ the front of her dog’s face, causing him to lose his jaw.

Rose then goes on to advise the reporter on how not to get caught when illegally digging with dogs, telling him that setts can be protected and to watch out for cameras. She advises him to go out digging with men who know what they’re doing.

The reporter does this and witnesses scenes of appalling cruelty to a deer, a boar and a badger cub who is skinned alive by dogs.

When the BBC put their evidence to Molly Rose, she refused to be interviewed and denied that she was involved in badger or fox digging or had ever given advice to anyone on how to do it. She also backtracked on the cause of her dog Stan’s injuries, claiming he’d been caught on barbed wire as a puppy.

Teenager Molly Rose of Cowbridge in Wales glorifies illegal hunting with dogs on social media and participates in it herself

A year after The Secret Life of Badger Baiters was aired Molly Rose has not yet been prosecuted and continues undeterred. The evidence obtained by BBC Wales investigators that this callous young woman participates in a bloodsport that causes unthinkable cruelty to wildlife and dogs alike is very strong. It’s time to throw the book at her.

====
Update 29/06/19
We are advised that “traveller wannabe” Molly Rose is a horse trader and also breeds puppies from her grandmother’s yard. Our contact told us the following:

That Molly Rees aka Molly Rose aka Molly Price is a bad egg. She’s breeding puppies like they’re going out of fashion. So does her mother and grandmother. She lives in her grandmother’s yard in a static caravan. The place is filthy and her nan runs a grooming business from there. It’s dreadful. There’s filthy matted dogs loose everywhere there and she breeds from them now.

The RSPCA went there but Molly kicked off big time on them and refused to unlock the gate so they left and by the time they went back with the police Molly and her nan moved all the dogs apart from 3 out of the 12.

Molly also deals horses none of their animals are cared for. It’s a disgrace.

Molly’s been hunting since.13/14 when she hit puberty. She was a talented rider as a child, went to Horse of the Year Show etc, then she discovered the travellers sold cheap horses.

She started dealing when she was 14. Been a traveller wannabe since.

Port Glasgow, Inverclyde: Sean Ward

#TheList Sean Ward, born c. 1991, originally from Greenock and more recently of Dougliehill Terrace, Port Glasgow PA14 – kept fighting dogs for killing wildlife including badgers, deer and foxes

Sean Ward from Port Glasgow kept fighting dogs for killing wildlife including badgers, deer and foxes.
Sheriff Craig Harris described Ward’s behaviour ”evil and sadistic” as he jailed Ward for seven months and banned him from keeping dogs for 20 years.

Violent career criminal and wildlife persecutor Sean Ward was jailed for seven months after Scottish SPCA investigators uncovered evidence of his appalling animal cruelty. This included text messages in which Ward described setting dogs on a fox as “some buzz” as well as a sick video showing a live deer being restrained by it hind legs as voices urged dogs to attack it.

Photographs of Ward smiling beside the dead animal later emerged.

Sean Ward from Port Glasgow kept fighting dogs for killing wildlife including badgers, deer and foxes.

The habitual thug, who has multiple previous convictions for weapons offences and violence, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act on summary complaint.

Sean Ward from Port Glasgow kept fighting dogs for killing wildlife including badgers, deer and foxes.

Ward was caught after a dog walker spotted him out with an injured dog in Port Glasgow in April 2018.

The black and white Jack Russell terrier was limping, had cuts and blood on her limbs and chest as well as a severe injury to her face.

The dog walker filmed the injured dog and sent footage to the Scottish SPCA.

Sean Ward from Port Glasgow kept fighting dogs for killing wildlife including badgers, deer and foxes.

The court heard police officers and Scottish SPCA investigators carried out a series of raids at Ward’s home after receiving the video from the concerned dog walker.

On one occasion, they found a Patterdale Terrier with scars on her face.

Sean Ward from Port Glasgow kept fighting dogs for killing wildlife including badgers, deer and foxes.

The animal was taken to a Scottish SPCA facility where she was examined by a vet. He found that the injuries were consistent with face-to-face fighting with a badger.

The vet viewed the film taken of the Jack Russell. In his opinion, the dog’s injuries were also consistent with face-to-face fighting with a badger.

A mobile phone seized during a search of Ward’s home was examined and a number of images and video were found.

One of the photographs showed Ward with a dead deer, a white lurcher and a Jack Russell.

Sean Ward from Port Glasgow kept fighting dogs for killing wildlife including badgers, deer and foxes.

A video of three dogs savaging a deer was also found where people were heard urging the dogs to attack.

Sara Shaw, head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), welcomed the sentence.

She said: “These dogs caused terrible and unnecessary suffering with numerous wounds and scars.

“COPFS will continue to work to ensure those who participate in this barbaric practice are prosecuted and would encourage anyone who may have information on dog fighting to contact the police or Scottish SPCA.”

Sentencing: Jailed for seven months. Banned from keeping animals for 20 years.

BBC News
The Sun

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

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

North Wales badger baiters: David Thomas, Marc Wynn Morris, Jordan Houlston

#TheList badger baiting gang members David Thomas, born 21/03/1966, of Cwm Bowydd Farm, Blaenau Ffestiniog LL41 3EL, Marc Wynn Morris, born 19/05/1991, of Jones Street, Blaenau Ffestiniog LL41 3YF, Jordan Alexander Houlston, born 04/08/1993, of Alexandra Road, Llandudno LL30 2DQ and an unnamed 17-year-old

Convicted badger baiters and dog abusers David Thomas and Jordan Houlston
Convicted badger baiters and dog abusers David Thomas and Jordan Houlston

The four men were convicted following an RSPCA probe into badger baiting and animal fighting at Cwm Bowydd Farm, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, North Wales LL41 3EL.

The undercover investigation into the activities of Houlston and co, which was led by Ian Briggs of the RSPCA’s special operations unit, featured in a May 2018 documentary produced by BBC Wales entitled ‘The Secret World of Badger Baiting’.

The programme also uncovered a scene of horror at Cwm Bowydd farm, which is co-owned by David Thomas, sole master of the Dwyrd hunt .

Animal cruelty on a massive scale was taking place at the farm with dozens of neglected dogs found locked away in brick enclosures with no natural light.

Dogs discovered living in damp, cold and dirty conditions at the farm co-owned by David Thomas
Dogs discovered living in damp, cold and dirty conditions at the farm co-owned by David Thomas
Dogs discovered living in damp, cold and dirty conditions at the farm co-owned by David Thomas
Several dogs were kept in appalling conditions at the farm
Dogs discovered living in damp, cold and dirty conditions at the farm co-owned by David Thomas
Dogs discovered living in damp, cold and dirty conditions at the farm co-owned by David Thomas
Dogs discovered living in damp, cold and dirty conditions at the farm co-owned by David Thomas
Dogs discovered living in damp, cold and dirty conditions at the farm co-owned by David Thomas

Two foxes were found in a cage which had been placed close to a barn in which fox hounds were being kept.

The RSPCA discovered this caged fox at the farm
At the farm the RSPCA discovered two foxes in a cage placed near to a barn containing fox hounds
The foxes were trapped in a cage which was placed next to kennels containing hunting hounds
The terrified foxes were trapped in a cage which was placed next to kennels containing hunting hounds

A search of Jordan Houlston’s flat found several dogs in external and others living in tiny enclosures inside including in the property’s bathroom.

Investigators discovered animal medication at the flat and a number of books on hunting with dogs and badger baiting.

A total of 31 dogs were taken from Houlston’s flat and the farm to be examined by a vet.

One rescued Patterdale terrier had fresh injuries to her nose, damage to her jaw and a peeling wound on her chin.

The court heard how artificial badger setts were found at the farm along with seven skulls, possibly those of foxes or badgers.

The RSPCA said this fake sett was used to hold a badger
The RSPCA said this fake sett was used to hold a badger

Pipes were used to hold captive animals and dogs were brought to a copse and forced to fight with them.

Video footage showed badger baiting, which has been illegal since 1835.

A badger had been brought to the area in advance and arrangements made for dogs to chase and injure the animal.

The presiding judge Gwyn Jones said: “Fortunately, we didn’t see how the badger was ultimately killed, but it’s quite clear the death would have been slow and no doubt extremely painful.

“That activity would also have had an adverse impact on the dogs.

“This was a deliberate and planned venture to cause suffering to an animal,”

“Mr Thomas and Mr Houlston played a leading role.”

Thomas was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a badger by causing it to fight with dogs.

One of the two terrified foxes saved from a cruel death at David Thomas’s farm

He was also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to two foxes by keeping them caged close to dogs, causing the foxes to be terrified, and other animal welfare allegations.

Jordan Houlston was convicted  of ill-treating a badger, and unnecessary suffering by causing a badger to fight with dogs at Cwm Bowydd Farm in February 2017.

Jordan Houston is approved by the Master of Foxhounds Association

He was also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to four dogs and failing to meet the welfare needs of seven dogs.

Dogs rescued from the farm and Houlston's flat
Dogs rescued from the farm and Houlston’s flat
Dog rescued from Jordan Houlston's flat
Dog rescued from Jordan Houlston's flat

Morris pleaded guilty to wilfully injuring a badger, being present at an animal fight and causing unnecessary suffering to a badger by causing it to fight with a dog.

Sentencing:
David Thomas –  imprisoned for 22 weeks, and placed under close supervision for a 12-month period; costs of £5,000. Disqualified from keeping dogs for eight years.

 Houlston – imprisoned for 20 weeks, and also placed under close supervision for a 12-month period; total of £750 costs and charges. Disqualified from keeping dogs for eight years.

Morris – 10-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months; 150 hours of unpaid work; total of £650 costs and charges. Disqualified from keeping dogs for four years.

The unnamed 17-year-old who had pleaded guilty to being present at an animal fight was ordered to pay a total of £220 in costs and banned from keeping dogs for four years. 

Daily Post
BBC News

Cimla, Neath Port Talbot: Liam Moran

#TheList Liam Moran, born 01/10/1986, of Groves Road, Cimla, Neath SA11 – filmed his dogs viciously mauling a badger for two minutes before stabbing it to death

Horrifying footage on Liam Moran's mobile phone showed a badger being attacked by dogs
Horrifying footage on Liam Moran’s mobile phone showed a badger being attacked by dogs

Liam Moran pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog, to failing to protect four dogs from pain, suffering or injury, and four counts of wilfully injuring or ill-treating a badger.

Video footage stored on Moran’s mobile phone showed two lurchers and two terrier-type dogs savaging the the helpless badger for two minutes before it was stabbed to death.

RSPCA officers who raided Moran’s home found three dogs with scars and scabs in the garden.

One of the dogs, a terrier called Josh, was also missing an eye and had a ‘severe’ jaw injury which had healed.

In sheds at the property and in the back of Moran’s VW Kangool van officers found items including Dettol and other antiseptic products, a blood-stained skin stapler and staples, skin glue, a lamping light, spades, metal bars, and tablets given to dogs to boost their muscles and increase their stamina.

Mr Tarrant said it was the prosecution’s case that the first aid items found in the raid were to allow injuries to dogs to be treated ‘in house’ without having to take them to vets and thereby attracting attention.

The court heard the inspectors removed three of the dogs from the house and also seized Moran’s mobile phone.

When the phone was examined a number of disturbing video clips were found, along with numerous conversations about digging brocks and ‘pigs’, which the prosecution said were references to badgers.

Mr Tarrant said the messages were evidence of ‘wide scale and extensive activity’ by Moran.

After viewing the footage RSPCA inspectors went back to Moran’s house and found more dogs in the garden, including one with ‘puncture wounds’ under its chin. These too were seized.

It is not known where the badger baiting caught on camera took place.

District judge Neale Thomas said he did not believe the defendant’s assertion that the encounter with the badger had been by chance, calling the incident caught on film a ‘premeditated plan for gratuitous cruelty’.

He said Moran had shown ‘medieval barbarity’ and a ‘level of depravity almost too great to be believed’ in his hunting of badgers.

Sentence:
22 weeks in prison. Banned from owning dogs for life. The court ordered the retention of seven dogs seized from the Neath property.

Daily Mail

Claudy, Londonderry: Michael Conwell

#TheList Michael Stephen Conwell, born 14/01/1994, of Slievebuoy Park, Londonderry BT47 4BE – for cruelty to three dogs found with mouth injuries consistent with badger baiting

Badger baiter Michael Stephen Conwell from Londonderry failed to treat his dogs' appalling facial injuries
Badger baiter Michael Stephen Conwell from Londonderry failed to treat his dogs’ appalling facial injuries

Conwell’s animal cruelty was uncovered during a police search of properties in the Claudy area of Londonderry as part of an ongoing investigation into wildlife offences.

Inside his property police found three dogs with visible injuries to their mouths and lips.

A lurcher had long-standing damage to the right side of her mouth and damage to her lips. A vet who examined the dog believed the injuries had been inflicted three months earlier and described the lurcher’s condition as poor.

A patterdale terrier also had damage to her lips and scarring injuries, which the vet also believed were two months old.

The third dog, a Cairn-Patterdale cross, had several of her teeth missing as well as injuries to her lips. The vet believed those injuries were between two weeks and three months old.

Badger baiter Michael Stephen Conwell from Londonderry failed to treat his dogs' appalling facial injuries

The prosecutor said although the defendant was neither charged with nor convicted of badger baiting, the vet who examined the three dogs believed that the injuries were consistent with badger baiting.

The three dogs were removed from Conwell’s home by the police and kept in kennels.

The PSNI incurred kennelling costs of £14,000 for the three dogs, all of which have recovered from their injuries and are now waiting to be rehomed after the conclusion of the court proceedings.

The prosecutor said Conwell gave a “no comment” interview to the police following his arrest and gave no explanation as to how the injuries had been inflicted on his three dogs.

Sentencing: Conwell was originally given a three-month prison sentence and ordered to pay £14,000 kennelling costs. Following his appeal his sentence was increased to four months but suspended for three years. Costs were reduced to £7,500. Disqualified for life from owning animals.

Belfast Telegraph

wildlife crime ring from Devon, Dorset, Somerset and South Wales

#TheList for the persecution of wildlife including badgers and deer plus dog cruelty: Graham Coombes, Oliver Blatch, Kenneth Danes, Gethyn Durham, Dean McGrath, Pheon Radford, Ryan Robinson, Joseph O’Connor, Brian Forrest, Philip Cross and Daniel Ravenscroft

A blood-thirsty gang from Devon, Dorset, Somerset and South Wales who set savage dogs on foxes, deer, rabbits, badgers - and even a llama - in bid to 'kill as much wildlife as possible'
 Graham Coombes was the ringleader of a blood-thirsty gang who set savage dogs on foxes, deer, rabbits, badgers – and even a llama – in bid to ‘kill as much wildlife as possible’

Eleven men were sentenced – three receiving jail terms – for their part in a series of “abhorrent” attacks by dogs on deer, badgers and foxes. Graphic and distressing video footage found on the mobile phone of the ringleader Graham Coombes was shown in court, showing dogs savaging badgers and deer as the accused looked on and gave encouragement.

Analysis of one of the men’s phones revealed thousands of text messages, including one in which he claimed to have used his dogs to kill 178 deer, 894 rabbits, 28 foxes and 22 hares in just six months.

Jeremy Cave, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said the ‘primary motivation seems to be gratuitous pleasure’.

Mr Cave said the group would go out ‘lamping’ – using powerful lamps at night to startle and stun deer before setting dogs, usually lurchers, on them.

He said their aim was ‘to kill as much wildlife as possible’.

Mr Cave said Coombes was at the ‘centre of the operation, organising nights out, posting trophy pictures on social media’.

The other men involved were Oliver Blatch, Kenneth Danes, Gethyn Durham, Brian Forrest, Dean McGrath, Joseph O’Connor, Pheon Radford, Ryan Robinson, Philip Cross and Daniel Ravenscroft.

Mr Cave said that of the 27 offences, 22 were related to killing or attacking deer with dogs, four matters were of animal welfare issues relating to the dogs – including neglect – and another was the possession of a dangerous dog.

A blood-thirsty gang from Devon, Dorset, Somerset and South Wales who set savage dogs on foxes, deer, rabbits, badgers - and even a llama - in bid to 'kill as much wildlife as possible'
Graham Coombes organised animal hunting that involved the training of dogs who were ‘[his] tools; tools to hunt and kill’.

The court heard how a search of Coombes’ land by Trading Standards found a pile of animal carcasses with at least 20 separate skulls at the top of the heap.

The incinerator operator informed RSPCA investigators they disposed of 604 kilos of animal products, all believed to be from hunts.

Coombes also got another person to shoot his severely injured dog after it had been fighting a badger ‘for four hours’.

Details of offences and sentencing:

Graham Coombes, born c. 1975, a groundworker of 2 Abbey Road, Bovey Tracey, Devon TQ13 9HZ pleaded guilty to three counts of intentionally killing deer at night on different dates in 2014. He pleaded guilty to two counts of willfully killing a badger and one of willfully injuring a badger. He pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a terrier called Marley by failing to treat its injuries. Coombes was sentenced to a total of 20 weeks in prison. He was ordered to pay £3,000 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. He was disqualified for keeping dogs for life.

Oliver Blatch, born c. 1989, Little Acre, Back Lane, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 6SQ  pleaded guilty to two counts of killing deer at night. District Judge Baker noted Blatch was of previous good character before sentencing him to a total of eight weeks, suspended for one year, to complete 180 hours’ unpaid leave, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge.

Kenneth Danes, born c. 1987, of 11 Otterford Gypsy Park, Culmhead near Taunton TA3 7DX pleaded guilty to two counts of killing deer at night. District Judge Baker noted he was a hardworking man of good character and his early guilty plea. She sentenced him to a total of eight weeks suspended for 12 months and ordered him to pay £800 court costs, £60 victim surcharge and to forfeit his dog Cruz.

Joseph O’Connor, born c. 1993, a farmhand of Pontardawe near Swansea, admitted three charges of killing deer in 2014. District Judge Baker told O’Connor the killing of deer was “absolutely abhorrent, it’s barbaric”. However, she recognised his probation report showed genuine remorse and he was of previous good character. She also recognised his advocate’s observation that he was of “limited ability” and his “sense of shame”. She told him he had worked in agriculture his whole life yet despite that he involved himself in the killing of deer. He handed him a nine-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months. He also had to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £80 victim surcharge.

Gethyn Durham, born c. 1989, a landscape gardener of 36 Marl Court, Cwmbran, Gwent, admitted one count of killing a deer. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a pitbull-type dangerous dog and five charges of keeping other dogs in an unsuitable environment. District Judge Baker said she accepted his dog Bonnie was a “beloved family pet” but his probation report “shows [Durham] shows little remorse and has antipathy for the RSPCA and their work”.

Durham was jailed for six weeks followed by 12 months’ supervision. He was ordered to pay £800 court costs and £115 victim surcharge. As his partner broke down in the public gallery, District Judge Baker told Durham the legislation regarding dangerous dogs “ties my hands” and she ordered the dog be destroyed. Durham was also told he was disqualified from owning dogs for five years.

A blood-thirsty gang from Devon, Dorset, Somerset and South Wales who set savage dogs on foxes, deer, rabbits, badgers - and even a llama - in bid to 'kill as much wildlife as possible'
Gethyn Durham

Brian Forrest, born c. 1976, Upper Lodge, Tetton Estate, Kingston St Mary, near Taunton, owner of Brian Forrest Electrical, Taunton, pleaded guilty to a single count of killing deer. District Judge Baker also noted how he was of previous good character and he had shown genuine remorse. She sentenced him to six weeks jail, suspended for a year, to complete 140 hours unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. She also ordered him to forfeit his dog Eve.

Dean McGrath, born c. 1987, of Cwmbran, pleaded guilty to a single count of killing deer. McGrath was handed a six week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. District Judge Baker ordered him to complete 160 hours’ unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. He was also ordered to forfeit his dog Blue.

Pheon Radford, born c. 1994, of 19 Cross Street, Pentre, Ystrad in the Rhondda Valley, pleaded guilty to killing a deer and causing unnecessary suffering to a dog. District Judge Baker said Radford left his dog Scar to suffer from an “unpleasant” injury and listed previous scars on its body. She said he had deliberately travelled from Wales to take part in the deer hunts with Cross. She sentenced him to a total of 10 weeks, suspended for 12 months; to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. He was also disqualified from keeping dogs for three years and to forfeit his dog Scar.

Ryan Robinson, born c. 1996, of 1 Foundry Court in Chudleigh, admitted taking a deer without the consent of the owner. He was handed a 12 month community order, must take part in a 10 day rehabilitation requirement, complete 200 hours’ unpaid work and pay £800 court costs and a victim surcharge of £85.

Philip Cross, born c. 1980, of 20 Bryn Ivor St,Tonypandy in the Rhondda was found guilty after trial of killing deer at night. He was jailed for eight weeks and disqualified for keeping dogs for five years. He was ordered to pay £4,000 court costs and £80 victim surcharge.

Philip Cross at the appeal hearing
Philip Cross

Daniel Ravenscroft, born c. 1979, of Pearroc Vean, Grange Rd, Buckfastleigh TQ11 was found guilty after trial of killing deer at night. District Judge Baker said she took into account his early guilty plea and his 10 years’ service in the British Army. She noted he had given up his dog voluntarily and his probation report spoke of how he recognised how low he had fallen and the devastation it had caused him, leaving him “so embarrassed, so remorseful and so ashamed”.

 Daniel Ravenscroft

Ravenscroft was sentenced to six weeks’ custody, suspended for 12 months, to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work, forfeit his dog and pay £4,000 court costs and £60 victim surcharge.

Speaking outside of court, RSPCA Chief Inspector Will Mitchell said Coombes’ phone contained around 30,000 images ‘mostly depicting wildlife crime and the use of dogs to kill wildlife, around 11,000 text messages, and videos’.

The texts contained a series of ‘colloquial descriptions of animals, so for badgers they were described as ‘pigs, ‘black and whites’, ‘humbugs’ and ‘smellies’.

He said: ‘There would be the bravado in terms of the type of dogs used and the successes of the dogs. They wanted them for the fight, for destruction.

‘They might say this was sport or pest control – but it’s blood lust.’

Daily Mail

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In January 2018 it was reported that Daniel Ravenscroft and Philip Cross had appealed their convictions but the outcome of their appeals isn’t known.