Man faces prison for badger baiting

Magistrates have warned a Keighley man he faces being sent to jail for a “horrendous” case of badger baiting after he admitted causing his dog to fight the animals.

Anthony Lee, 23, of Coronation Way, Braithwaite, pleaded guilty at Bradford Magistrates’ Court to three counts of badger baiting.

The court was shown three videos of dogs attacking badgers at a location in West Yorkshire taken from his phone, which was seized by the police and RSPCA when they raided a previous address on February 9 last year.

A trial had been due to take place at Bradford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday last week before Lee pleaded guilty to one count of taking part in an animal fight on May 5, 2010, and two counts of causing his dog Bracken to fight with a badger on June 30 and December 30, 2010.

After the hearing, Inspector Carroll Lamport, of the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: “This kind of sadistic cruelty by people is totally unnecessary and the suffering to the badger involved here is immense.

“The badger is tormented for a long time and tortured by these dogs as they rip it to pieces. The sadists who do it also film it to presumably enjoy it later.”

Lee was granted bail until sentencing on May 22, on condition that during the interim he was not allowed to own any animals.

Nigel Monaghan, who prosecuted on behalf of the RSPCA, said: “The chairman of the bench described the footage as being horrendous and that while the magistrates bench couldn’t bind the sentencing bench, having seen the footage he wanted it to be noted that their recommendation was that there should be a custodial sentence.”

Mr Monaghan said Lee also signed over his two bull lurchers, Bracken and Titch, seized during the raid last year, to the RSPCA. He said while Titch had been in the RSPCA’s care she had given birth to nine puppies, which were also signed over to the RSPCA by Lee.

Mr Monaghan said the chairman of the bench imposed the bail condition for “animal welfare and to prevent any further offences”, while a custodial sentence should “act as both a punishment and a deterrent”.

He added: “I told the magistrates on the next occasion, at the sentencing hearing, there will be an application for substantial costs that have been incurred by the RSPCA as well as an application for the defendant to be disqualified from owning or keeping any animals.”

Insp Lamport said the RSPCA was aware badger baiting was rife in the Bradford and Keighley areas.