Sickening badger baiter jailed

A FATHER of four has been jailed for six months for carrying out brutal attacks on wild animals.

Richard Atkins, 44, of Oversetts Road, Newhall, used his pet dogs to subject badgers and foxes to prolonged suffering before eventually killing them.

Richard Atkins

Atkins admitted nine charges relating to animal cruelty and was also banned from owning an animal ever again.

Burton Magistrates’ Court was shown graphic videos filmed by the defendant, demonstrating how his black Patterdale terrier and lurcher carried out attacks — described in court as ‘malicious’ and ‘sadistic” — on two badgers and a fox in separate incidents in 2010.

In one film the dogs were shown tormenting a badger for more than five minutes as it struggled for survival, while another showed Atkins digging into a fox’s den before the dogs were sent in to kill it.

It was not just the wild animals which suffered during the fights — Atkins was also charged for not taking steps to ensure the safety of his dogs, who would often receive terrible injuries from the fights.

Richard Atkins dog

The court heard Atkins would treat his dogs’ injuries at home to avoid detection.

They were said to have bled profusely, while one became partially blind in one eye, and both were badly scarred.

Jeremy Cave, prosecuting, said: “This case is concerned with incredibly malicious and sadistic cruelty to animals.

“It’s clear there was a total failure to recognise basic humanity to animals in terms of what we owe to those that are domesticated and those that are wild.

“The evidence suggests this is a man who is very much involved with hunting hounds and takes pleasure in that activity.”

Police seized the two dogs from Atkins’ home, as well as four others which were also believed to be bred for fighting, along with paraphernalia such as digging equipment and search lights.

Addressing the defendant before sentencing him to 24 weeks in prison, presiding magistrate Peter Rolfe said: “The nature of the offences were very serious and show prolonged cruelty and neglect and an apparent lack of remorse on your part.”