A 24-YEAR-OLD unemployed father has been convicted of badger baiting after RSPCA officers found pictures on his mobile phone.
Other photographs of dead deer and a badly injured dog were found on the phone of David Nightingale, of Oakley Walk, Eston, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool Magistrates Court heard.
The photographs were discovered when RSPCA inspectors were tipped off about a practice called ‘dropping’ where a wild rabbit is caught and released for dogs to chase and kill.
A video was found on Nightingale’s Facebook site relating to the ‘dropping’ and when his home was searched after a warrant was obtained in March two dogs were found living in filthy conditions with no water and old hunting-related injuries.
He was prosecuted in July for causing unnecessary harm to the dogs but as part of that investigation his mobile phone was seized and the images of badger baiting were found, leading to a second prosecution.
John Ellwood, prosecuting, said: “For reasons unknown some people locate badger setts and send terriers down those setts with radio receivers expecting that the dog will encounter a badger.
“They will then dig down while the dog is fighting the badger and somehow haul out the dog and the badger and then set big dogs on the badger to watch it being torn to pieces.
“The defendant was present at such a scene on February 21, 2015 and took photographs. Those photographs show the digging of the sett and, more importantly, the injuries to the dog.
“Again, for reasons unknown, such people like the idea of their dogs being injured. It gives them some kind of kudos.”
Colin Sleeman, defending, said there was no evidence that a badger had actually been killed, taken or hurt and merely that it had been an attempt to do so. He said the photographed injuries to the dog was not evidence.
Nightingale had recently settled down and his partner gave birth to a baby three weeks ago.
He had no previous convictions, was looking for work and the landlord of Middlesbrough Conservative Club had written a positive letter of support to the court. He had also pleaded guilty as early as possible.
Martin Slimings, chairman of the magistrates’ bench, sentenced Nightingale to 12 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months. It effectively means Nightingale must serve an extra four months’ suspended sentence on top of the sentence he received in July.
He must also pay costs of £770 and is banned from keeping dogs for five years.
The location of the badger sett is not known.