#TheList Scott Hayes, born 16/02/1989 of Blakewood Drive, Blaxton, Doncaster DN9 3GX and Christopher Darwin, born 15/10/1991 of Laycock Avenue, Gringley-on-the-Hill, Doncaster DN10 4SA – used lurcher dogs to hunt and kill a deer on Christmas Eve
Scott Hayes and Chris Darwin were found guilty of poaching offences.
The pair were spotted by police coming off private land with lurcher dogs in the village of Haxey, North Lincolnshire, on December 24, 2019. The body of a freshly killed male Roe deer was discovered nearby and further investigations revealed its injuries were consistent with it being killed by dogs.
Chief Inspector Paul Butler said, “This court result should send out a very clear message to those who commit wildlife offences that we take these offences seriously and will seek other sanctions available to the courts.
“The obtaining of [Criminal Behaviour Orders] in this case provides other police forces with a straight forward tool to deal with these men if they choose to commit wildlife offences with the use of the type of dog involved. I would like to thank the Wildlife Crime Officers involved in bringing this case before the court, the CPS Prosecutors involved and also the court for taking such offences seriously”.
Deer poaching is a problem in many areas across the UK. It can involve extreme cruelty to the deer targeted, especially when dogs are used to chase and drag them down. Many offenders operate across several counties, travelling long distances to target specific hdilocations.
The use of lurcher type dogs features in most poaching offences committed during both the day and night.
Chief Inspector Butler added: “Poaching activity is a blight on the countryside and many of those involved are linked to other offending. Members of rural communities often feel vulnerable and intimidated by poachers who can be aggressive or offer violence if challenged.
“If you witness suspected poaching offences taking place, particularly where lurcher type dogs are being used please report it to the police via 999.”
Sentencing: 12-month community order of 300 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £350 court costs; made subject to a three-year Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) preventing them from entering the Humberside Police area.
#TheList Maidstone gypsies and serial animal abusers Jimmy Price, born c. 1994, of Forstal Farm, Well Street, Loose ME15 0QE, Samuel ‘Johnny’ Powell, born c. 1985, of Wheat Gratten Stableyards, Forstal Road, Lenham ME17 2BF, Danny Price, born c. 1990, of Victoria Stables, Victoria Court, East Farleigh ME15 0BW
Jimmy Price and Samuel Powell were sent to prison after the former was filmed repeatedly stabbing a deer and the latter had put an eight-month-old foal to work. Price was also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a horse and two dogs.
Jimmy Price’s brother, Danny Price – a qualified jockey – admitted letting a horse starve to death and received a community order.
A video played to the court showed Jimmy Price’s dogs, Scout and Tramp, untethered and unfed at the father-of-two’s home address in Forstal Farm, Loose.
A voice in the video was heard to say: “If they run away good luck to them, I tell you what you’re the wickedest fella I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Jimmy Price, who has a history of violence, was previously convicted in December 2019 after repeatedly stabbing a deer. He was also caught hare coursing.
Rowan Morton, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said today: “It’s very difficult to even explain the gravity of what the video shows.
“There are a group of four males that can be seen with a deer. Jimmy Price is seen stabbing the deer multiple times in the throat while others shout at him to stab it.
“It’s very graphic and upsetting, there was no doubt that animal was caused significant pain and suffering.”
Price, who was already serving a suspended sentence for theft offences, has previously been convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs.
When Tramp and Scout were taken into the RSPCA’s care and fed properly, they gained 25% bodyweight and 45% bodyweight respectively within seven weeks.
Price’s dogs and the horse, which belonged to his late father, were seized during an RSPCA raid on Forstal Farm in March 2019.
Horse trader Samuel Powell had three horses seized during the same raid, having had a mare and her foal seized two months prior.
Four of the horses were found to be emaciated. One was suffering with diarrhoea and the foal had breathing problems, fleas and was described as “very thin”.
A Shetland Pony was found with a cut across the nose.
Powell accepted each of the horses was his own, but said they were in that condition as he was rehabilitating them.
He told the court: “I will buy horses that have not been treated properly. When I get them I feed them, look after them and rehabilitate them. Then I sell them for profit.
“I like to think I sometimes save lives when I buy horses.”
When asked where he buys his horses, Powell said: “I don’t want to go into too much detail as I’m from the gypsy community.”
In 2019 Powell was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a foal which was seen walking up and down at Appleby Horse Fair pulling a cart with people in.
On Friday 10/01/2020 Powell was found guilty of four counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and a fifth charge of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal. The five charges relate to the five horses seized from Forstal Farm.
Danny Price admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a bay horse. In return charges of causing suffering to a bay mare, a black mare and a piebald mare, were dropped.
The bay horse was found dead next to a hay bale during the RSPCA raid in March 2019. He had starved to death.
Magistrates heard the 29-year-old had stopped looking after the horse as he was in the process of selling it, and thought it was the new owner’s responsibility.
Sentencing: Jimmy Price – jailed for seven and a half months of which half will be spent in custody. Ordered to pay £5,115 in costs and charges. Five-year order banning him from keeping dogs.
Samuel Powell – jailed for 26 weeks and will serve half of that sentence. Ordered to pay total of £5,115. Banned from owning horses for five years but can appeal after just one year.
Danny Price – 12-month community order; 150 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £1,585.
#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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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 from keeping dogs for life.
Oliver Blatch of 32 Pines Close, Wincanton BA9 9SJ 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 of 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, a farmhand at Perthigwynion Farm, Pontardawe near Swansea SA8 4TA, 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, a landscape gardener of 36 Marl Court, Cwmbran, Gwent NP44 5TY, 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 according to his probation report “[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.
Brian Forrest, owner of Brian Forrest Electrical (now Hunter Electrical SW Ltd), of 29 Alfred Street, Taunton TA1 3HY, 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 35 Neerings, Coed Eva, Cwmbran NP44 6UG, 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 of 25 Wyndham Street, Ystrad, Pentre CF41 7BA, 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 P Robinson of Queens Gate, Queen Street, Newton Abbot TQ12 2EY , 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 of 20 Bryn Ivor St, Tonypandy CF40 2TL 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.
Daniel Ravenscroft of Pearroc Vean, Grange Rd, Buckfastleigh, Devon TQ11 0EH 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”.
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.’
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Sophie Long said: “Laddie had severe injuries to his face and body consistent with being used for badger baiting, and was suffering a great deal when he was removed by police and placed in our care.
“He wasn’t the only animal to suffer for Ben Wilson’s enjoyment.
“Wilson’s own hunting diary, seized by police from his home, along with posts on social media, documented the animals he had caused to suffer and die.
“Nine bull lurcher puppies were living in an unsuitable environment at Wilson’s home, it seems likely bred with the intention of being used to inflict suffering, for his pleasure, in the same way.
“I’m very pleased that we will now be able to seek great new homes for these dogs where they will not be caused to suffer, or be forced to be the cause of suffering for other animals.”
Sentence: 24 weeks in prison; costs of £750 and a victim surcharge of £115; disqualified from keeping any animals indefinitely, with no appeal against the ban allowed for at least ten years.
#TheList wildlife persecutor Christian Latcham, born c. 1987, of Morton Terrace, Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf CF40 2DP
Blood sports enthusiast Latcham – a father of six – pleaded guilty to two charges under the Animal Welfare Act and six charges under the Badger Act.
The serial abuser was prosecuted after evidence of sickening cruelty towards badgers, foxes and deer were discovered on his mobile phone.
Prosecuting, Geraint Richards described to the court the disturbing pictures of a severed badger head, a photo of Latcham’s dogs savaging a badger and an image of a bloodstained Latcham holding up animal carcasses.
The court heard how, on being arrested in 2009 for a separate offence, Latcham had aroused officers’ suspicion as he hurried to conceal his mobile phone.
When the police seized his phone they viewed images of the defendant holding up the carcasses of foxes, deer and badgers.
Clive Rees, defending, said the defendant lacked empathy and had limited social skills.
He said: “He has been unable to put himself in the place of the animals he was dealing with and to think and see through the things he was doing.”
Chairman of the bench Mike Hanley said: “These were deliberate and unprovoked actions which speak of unspeakable cruelty.”
Two dogs used to savage the badgers were taken away from Latcham.
RSPCA inspector Simon Evans said badger baiting had become a prevalent problem in South Wales.
He said: “Offending evidence in this type of case is rare, but this isn’t a one off.”
Sentencing: Five-month prison sentence, suspended for one year; 250 hours of unpaid work; £1,000 costs. Disqualified indefinitely from keeping dogs.
2018 update: despite having been banned indefinitely from keeping dogs Christian Latcham featured in an episode of BBC Wales Investigates entitled ‘The Secret World of Badger Baiters’.
The episode, which you can watch on YouTube, showed that Latcham not only had dogs but was still actively engaged in badger baiting alongside Jamie Rush. Other associates include Tomas Young and Ryan Harrison, who were jailed for badger baiting in June 2019. Young’s cruelty included skinning a badger cub alive before feeding it to his dogs.