Badger cruelty trial hears how gang laughed

A GANG laughed as they watched a badger being ripped about by dogs in a ‘tug of war’ on remote farmland near Malton, a court has heard.

Eight men appeared at Scarborough Court yesterday (Tuesday) accused of offences under the Protection of Badgers Act and the Hunting Act, of wilfully killing a badger, digging out and interfering with a sett, hunting a wild animal with dogs and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

Six of the men pleaded not guilty to the charges. They are Alan Alexander, 32, of Bramham Close, York, William Edward Anderson, 26, of Hillside, Cropton Lane, Pickering, James Henry Doyle, 34, of Westfield Avenue, Knottingley, Richard Simpson, 37, of Wains Road, York, Paul Ian Tindall, 33 of Bramham Grove, York, and a 17-year-old York youth who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Two other men, Christopher Martin Holmes, 28, of Bell Farm Avenue, York, and Malcolm David Warner, 28, of Princess Drive, York, pleaded guilty to jointly wilfully killing a badger, digging for badgers, and interfering with a sett, and had their cases adjourned until January 10. Both were granted unconditional bail.

Sobia Ahmed, for the Crown Prosecution Service, told the District Judge Christina Harrison that Anderson had previously carried out pest control on the land at Paradise Farm, Howsham, going to the site up to four times a week, but he was told by the landowner of the sett’s existence and not to go near it.

The eight men had been seen and heard laughing and watching two large dogs worrying a badger but no attempt was made to pull them off the animal which was eventually shot.

Some of the men made off in Land Rovers but were arrested shortly afterwards by police. “Anderson admitted that he had shot the badger which he said had run out in front of him, and he had put it out of its misery,” said Ms Ahmed.

Wildlife artist Robert Fuller alerted the police after coming across the scene. As a result they found the remains of two badgers and foetuses at the scene.

Post mortem examinations of the two badgers that one had died from gunshot wounds after a sustained attack by dogs, and the other had been “torn to pieces and bled to death” said Ms Ahmed.

All the defendants were responsible.

All were present at the sett, but they did nothing to stop the attacks,” she added.

Mr Fuller told the court that he had been a badger watcher for 26 years and had often spent all night watching their behaviour.

He had been walking with a friend on the morning of January 30 this year, following the River Derwent between Scrayingham and Howsham Bridge, looking for signs of otters when he came across the baiters.

Mr Fuller said he was more than three fields away from the sett when he heard dogs barking.

“As we got closer I heard what I thought was a badger in distress,” he added. The noise, he said, was “squealing and chittering”.

Mr Fuller added that he could see two large lurchers worrying a badger, and three other terriers, on leads but he believed there were other dogs tethered elsewhere.

“The badger attempted to bite the dogs which were doing a tug of war with it,” said Mr Fuller One of the men appeared to be goading the fight.

“It was a spectator sport,” added Mr Fuller.

He had climbed through a hedge to see the incident and then took photographs.

“But once they spotted me their attitude changed. One put his hood up and an arm over his face,” he said.

Mr Fuller had photographed four of the men but did not get pictures of the others because he realised he had been seen.

He then got his friend, who was on the other side of the hedge, to phone the police.

Mr Fuller said he had kept observation on the men for between three and four minutes.

“I felt I was arriving at the end of the event rather than the beginning,” he told the court.

Mr Fuller said the police had later stopped the two Land Rovers and arrested five of the men, but he recalled them to say that there were three others and directed them to the scene.

“It was clear the three knew the others had been arrested and didn’t know where to go,” he said.

When Mr Fuller inspected the scene later he found blood and badger hair on the grass and two unborn cubs dead after the insides of one of the badgers had been ripped out.

The trial continues.