Scottish badger baiter escapes jail

Wildlife protection agencies have expressed their disappointment after a man who admitted badger baiting was sentenced to community service.

Craig Morrison, 22, from Dalry, Ayrshire, admitted three charges after his dogs mauled two badger cubs.

At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, he was given 175 hours community service.

The SSPCA said all agencies would be disappointed at the sentence which did “not really send the message that badger baiting was a serious crime”.

Morrison had been charged with nine offences.

He pleaded guilty to three charges, including cruelly ill-treating badgers by sending dogs into a sett on 29 March.

Graeme Cunningham, defending, said Morrison accepted his dogs entered the sett and killed the badgers but insisted the act was reckless rather than deliberate.

Sentencing, Sheriff Seith Ireland said: “The court must do what it can to send a message to the wider community and make sure the law is obeyed to protect animals, badgers in this case, from disturbance or even worse, being killed.

“It seems to me that you behaved recklessly rather than deliberately setting out to kill these particular badgers.”

Doreen Graham, spokeswoman for the SSPCA, said: “It is alarming the number of disturbed badger setts our inspectors are coming across.

“No-one expects the courts to be experts about badger baiting but I have to say we’re disappointed with this.”

Pc Frazer Mitchell, wildlife crime officer for North Ayrshire, who was involved in the case, said: “We are disappointed that he didn’t end up with a custodial sentence.

“He freely admitted the charges he was convicted of.”

The sheriff also banned Morrison from keeping dogs for two years and ordered him to pay £1,200 towards the upkeep of his dogs, which have been kept in SSPCA kennels.

Hunting equipment including two live catch traps, a tracking harness, shovels and a map were confiscated.