Gamekeeper jailed for horrific fox attack

Gamekeeper Stephen Metcalfe

Gamekeeper Stephen Metcalfe

A former gamekeeper has been jailed for 16 weeks after setting two dogs on a snared fox in a yard. He admitted filming the horrific attack on his mobile phone.

Stephen Metcalfe, 32, of Cavey Garth, Leyburn pleaded guilty at Northallerton Magistrates Court to two allegations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

RSPCA acting chief inspector Mark Gent said: “This is the most horrific footage I have seen in my ten years with the RSPCA. The fox – which has a snare around it – doesn’t stand a chance yet it fights for its life against two dogs and two men who have it backed into a corner.”

All the time you can hear Metcalfe and an unidentified man urging them on and laughing. One of them even pins the fox down with a piece of wood to its throat, thought to be a “beat stick”, to give the dogs even more of an advantage.”

All the time you can hear Metcalfe and an unidentified man urging them on and laughing. One of them even pins the fox down with a piece of wood to its throat, thought to be a “beat stick”, to give the dogs even more of an advantage.”

The ordeal goes on for several minutes until eventually the fox is so weak it can’t defend itself anymore.

“Everyone who has seen it has been in tears.”

The footage came to light after police confiscated Metcalfe’s phone for an unrelated reason and contacted the RSPCA.The court heard that the fox was ultimately shot.

Neither the terrier-type dog, referred to as “Tiggy” in the footage or the lurcher-type dog referred to as “Eddie” or “Eric” were ever found though it’s believed they belonged to the unidentified man.

RSPCA acting chief inspector Mark Gent said: “These men could have killed this fox whenever they wanted but they prolonged its suffering for their pleasure.

“This wasn’t about despatching vermin or “sport.” This was a barbaric act of cruelty against a totally defenceless animal. They even captured it on camera so they could replay it over and over to themselves.”

Metcalfe was also banned from keeping dogs for ten years with no appeal for five years.