Category Archives: badger baiting

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 convicted badger baiters 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 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. David Thomas, sole master of the Dwyrd hunt since 1994, is joint-owner of the farm.

These dogs were found at the farm
These dogs were found at the farm

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 brought to a copse to fight.

The RSPCA discovered this caged fox at the farm
The RSPCA discovered this caged fox at the farm

Video footage showed badger baiting, which has been illegal since the 19th century.

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. 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.

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

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

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

===

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.

Market Rasen, Lincolnshire: Zamual Mallinson

#TheList Zamual Mallinson (DoB 02/11/1990), formerly of St Marys Lane, Binbrook, Market Rasen, Lincs – filmed himself kicking rabbit in ‘act of brutality’ and had dogs with facial injuries kept in awful conditions

Image of convicted animal abuser Zamual Mallinson grinning outside court
Zamual Mallinson

Mallinson, currently (2018) of Drigh Road, Brookenby, Binbrook, Market Rasen,  was found guilty of keeping a Staffordshire bull terrier, a lurcher cross and a patterdale terrier for animal fighting.

He was investigated by the RSPCA’s special operations unit after he bragged on Facebook about how he used his dogs to fight foxes and badgers.

A search at an address on Edinburgh Road, Brookenby, Lincolnshire, in April 2014 found his dogs kept in unsuitable conditions and with injuries consistent with animal fights.

On his phone, which was obtained during the search, footage was discovered of Mallinson walking up behind a wild rabbit and kicking the animal like a football.

Speaking about the case, RSPCA Chief Inspector Ian Briggs said: “Our investigation was initially focused on Mallinson keeping his dogs to attack and fight wild animals. However, the footage we discovered on his mobile phone, of him deliberately and unashamedly kicking a wild rabbit, shows his contempt for animals.”

Sentence: Mallinson was sentenced to 12-week custodial sentences, suspended for 12 months, for each offence, to run concurrently. 150 hours of unpaid work; fine of £7,000, victim surcharge of £80; banned from keeping dogs for 10 years (expires September 2025).

Newslink:
ITV News 04/09/2015