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