Two men from County Durham have been ordered to pay substantial court costs after being found guilty of disturbing a badger sett in Richmondshire.

During sentencing at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 30 November 2011, James Linsley, 27, from Barnard Castle and Ian Blakey, 33, from Crook, were instructed to pay £775 each and were sentenced to 80 hours unpaid community work.

Magistrates also ordered the destruction of their poaching equipment including dog collar transmitters and receivers and a metal spike. The court also recommended that the Skoda Octavia car used by Linsley to get to the scene of the crime be permanently forfeited.

Linsley and Blakey, who were found guilty following an earlier two-day hearing, were arrested on 14 March 2011 when they were spotted digging a badger sett at Bolton Grange, Bolton on Swale.

Officers found that the entrance to the sett had been dug into and the men were also in possession of terriers and dog collar transmitters and locators.

Badgers are protected species and North Yorkshire Police are determined to ensure that anyone who persecutes them, or any other wildlife in the county will be robustly dealt with.

PC John Wilbor, of Richmond Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “This is a very satisfying result as a lot of time and effort goes into proving cases of this nature.

“Instead of pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity, Linsley and Blakey chose to take up the valuable time of the court service. It is therefore pleasing that they will now have to pay for their crimes with their own time and money.

“I hope their sentences send a strong message to other criminals who are thinking of coming to North Yorkshire to prey on protected species and our rural communities in general. We will not tolerate their behaviour and neither will our residents and the dedicated members of Rural Watch, who do a great job in assisting us with tackling rural crime.”

Anyone who wants to report any suspicious behaviour in their community should contact North Yorkshire Police on 0845 6060247.

Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.

* Rural Watch is funded with the help of Hambleton and Richmondshire Community Safety Partnership.

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