#TheList badger baiters John Frame Murray, born 08/11/1956, of 119 Avon Road, Larkhall ML9 1RA and his son, also named John Murray, born 06/01/1980, of 18 Earn Gardens, Larkhall ML9 1QG
Father and son John “Mint” Murray and John Murray junior were found guilty of digging into and damaging a badger sett with the intention of using dogs to take or kill badgers following a trial in March 2014.
Investigators recovered two Patterdale terriers and a blue brindle Staffordshire bull terrier from the pair’s homes. All three dogs had suffered severe damage to their lower jaws, including tearing to the lips, nose and missing teeth. These injuries were consistent with having been used repeatedly in face-to-face confrontation with badgers.
The Murrays were caught after witnesses saw and photographed them digging into what was suspected to be a badger sett at Drummond Hill near Sandilands, Lanark on February 2, 2012.
The Scottish SPCA visited the site and discovered an active badger sett which had been recently dug.
The court heard the pair also liked to trap cats and foxes in a wheelie bin, which they then set their dogs on.
Sara Shaw, wildlife and environment procurator fiscal, said: “The intentions of these men were cruel, unkind and wholly illegal.
“The law protects badgers from harm as well as dogs from being used for fighting.
“The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will continue to work to ensure anyone who breaks the law is brought to justice.”
The pair were found guilty of three charges contrary to the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
They were convicted of attempting to kill, injure or take a badger and of damaging the badger sett, in particular digging into its tunnel.
The men also interfered with the sett by causing a dog to enter it.
Speaking about the case, Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “This was a very complex and challenging investigation requiring technical forensic work and a great deal of time and specialist resources.”
He added: “During the course of our investigation we found and seized three dogs, two Patterdale terriers and one Staffordshire bull terrier.
“Both Patterdales were found to have severe injuries to their lower jaws, including tearing to the lips and missing teeth. The Staffordshire bull terrier had injuries to its upper and lower lips and nose and missing teeth.
“Following the outcome of this case we are very pleased we can now find these three dogs the loving new homes they deserve.
“This case serves as a warning that we will do all we can to identify and detect persons involved in this barbaric activity, which causes severe suffering, mutilation and death to both badgers and dogs. This includes working with other agencies throughout England and Northern Ireland.”
Animal protection charity OneKind also said it was pleased with the sentence.
Its spokeswoman Louise Robertson said: “Badger baiting is such a cruel and violent form of animal abuse that it is natural to expect a custodial sentence in these circumstances.
“While a jail term would have sent a clear message that pitting animals against each other to fight in such a primitive and barbaric way is totally unacceptable, 250 hours of community service does indicate the court has taken the matter seriously.
“We are pleased both men have been banned from keeping dogs for 10 years.”
Sentencing: ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work each. Banned from keeping dogs for 10 years (expires April 2024).
Update July 2014: In the same year the Murrays were convicted of badger baiting, they also appeared in court where they admitted beating up a mum and her two daughters.
One of the Murrays’ victims said she was so terrified of the pair, she left Scotland.
The duo were given two years each for beating up Murray Jnr’s estranged wife, her sister and their mum in an unprovoked attack.
Update August 2017: it was reported that the Scottish SPCA had seized five lurcher-type dogs from the Murrays following a tip=off.
A source told the Sunday Post “It’s clear the Murrays won’t stop keeping dogs despite what the court has told them.
“The conviction was only three years ago and there are fears they are back to their old ways.”
The dogs, which were seized on August 10, 2017, were rehomed by the Scottish SPCA.
Police Scotland confirmed the Murrays were the subject of a report to the procurator fiscal over “alleged offences under the Protection of Badgers Act and a disqualification order”.
A source at the Crown Office said it was understood a report on the pair was being sent to them for consideration.
An undercover inspector from the Scottish SPCA Special Investigations Unit said: “We were called to an address in Larkhall to assist Police Scotland in regards to males who previously received a ban at Hamilton Sheriff Court to prevent them keeping dogs due to their involvement in badger baiting.
“A report will be submitted by Police Scotland.”
Unfortunately, we can find no follow-up to this.