By CHARLES WALFORD
A wildlife photographer Robert Fuller managed to take this picture showing one of the men snatching at a badger in the dog's mouth
Four thugs who were caught laughing as their dogs tore wild animals to pieces have been jailed for their part in ‘barbaric’ and ‘abhorrent’ badger baiting.
Scarborough Magistrates’ Court heard how a group of six men and a teenage boy dug out and killed two badgers from a sett on farmland at Howsham, near York, in January last year. Sobia Ahmed, prosecuting, said dogs played tug-of-war with one of the badgers before it was shot in the head and slung into undergrowth, while a pregnant badger was torn to pieces and bled to death.
Mr Fuller presented his photos of the gang badger baiting in the hope that they would help convict the men
Alan Alexander, 32, Richard Simpson, 37, and Paul Tindall, 31, all from York, and William Anderson, 26, from Pickering, North Yorkshire, were jailed for 16 weeks at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court after being found guilty of wilfully killing a badger, hunting a mammal with dogs, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett.
'Barbaric': Richard Simpson, left, and Alan Alexander, right, arrive at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court to hear their sentence
Alexander and Simpson were also convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Another two men, Christopher Holmes, 28, and Malcolm Warner, 28, both from York, were handed 12-week custodial sentences suspended for 12 months after they pleaded guilty to wilfully killing a badger, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett.
District Judge Kristina Harrison said she was sending out a clear signal to anybody involved in such activities that they would be sent to prison.
'Abhorrent': Paul Tindall, pictured left, and William Anderson, right, arriving for sentencing
A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a youth rehabilitation order after he was also found guilty of wilfully killing a badger, hunting a mammal with dogs, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett.
Sentencing the men and the teenager, Ms Harrison said: ‘Badger baiting is regarded as a barbaric sport and the public feeling is one of revulsion.’
The group of men stuffed this dead badger back into its sett in attempt by the men to conceal the crime
Wildlife photographer Robert Fuller caught the group in the act and was able to take pictures that helped secure a conviction
Police and RSPCA inspectors who visited the scene found animal intestines and badger foetuses scattered around and areas of congealed blood, believed to be from where the badger had been shot.
When they recovered the two badgers, one was found to have been shot at close range and had a fractured skull and jaw.
The other had part of its abdomen missing and injuries consistent with being attacked by a dog.
Mr Fuller, 38, later gave his pictures to the police and RSPCA and they were used to convict the gang.
When they investigated, the authorities established the men had killed three adult badgers and three unborn cubs.
Ms Ahmed said the pregnant badger suffered 'a sustained attack by a number of dogs that had caused the badger to be torn to pieces and eventually it bled to death' while the other had a 'gunshot wound to the head immediately after a severe and sustained attack by a number of dogs'.