Two Merseyside men who were caught trying to take a badger at an isolated North Wales location have been spared jail.
William Chrystal, 24, of Milestone Road and Leighton David Shiers, 19, of Melling Way, both Kirkby, admitted attempting to take, kill or injure a badger, and digging for a badger, at Trelawnyd near Holywell, on April 26 last year.
A gang of five – wearing camouflage clothing and head torches – scattered when police crept up on the sett late at night after being alerted by a concerned dog walker and only Chrystal and Shiers were caught.
This afternoon at Flintshire magistrates’ court at Mold, District Judge Gwyn Jones said it was “a sophisticated and well planned venture to attack a badger sett”.
The gang had travelled some distance from their homes in a vehicle fit for cross-country use and he said that the sett was in an extremely rural location and it would have required extensive knowledge of badgers and their habits to find them.
He said it was clear from the photographs found on Chrystal’s phone that he had an unhealthy interest in causing damage to badgers.
The court heard that dogs with tracking devises attached to their collars had been used to locate badgers underground and a determined attempt had been made to dig down to the sett.
Prosecutor Peter Humphrey-Jones said the incident had happened in April when there would be young badgers in the sett and if successful they would have been taken to sell on for baiting or used to train young terriers to attack badgers.
Mr Humphrey-Jones said: “The ultimate intention was to take a badger from the sett.”
He said Chrystal knew what he was up despite his claim to have a limited involvement.
Incriminating photographs had been found on his mobile phone including a badger dig taking place, and there was a photograph of an animal being torn apart.
There was also a photograph of a young badger in a domestic setting, on a bed in someone’s house.
Andy Egerton, defending, said the gang had come to North Wales after being invited to shoot vermin – but they were not aware that they would be hunting for badgers until they arrived.
He said they remained when they accepted that they should have walked away.
He said the defendants, who were deeply sorry and ashamed, did not own any of the equipment seized.
He said: “They will never be involved in any type of hunting, legal or illegal, in the future. Enough is enough.”
He said Shiers was a young man of no convictions who was working as a barman, while Chrystal was a single parent and sole carer for his two children aged five and two.
Sgt Rob Taylor, manager of North Wales Police rural crime team, said that thankfully such brutal and barbaric offences were rare.
Judge Jones imposed a 12 month community order with 160 hours unpaid work and ordered that all the equipment seized should be destroyed. The defendants were also ordered to pay £360 costs. A deprivation order was made in respect of the Land Rover which the gang used.
Source : Liverpool Echo