Colne thugs jailed for animal cruelty offences

Three Colne thugs have been sent to jail for their part in “sickening” animal cruelty offences.

Shaun Mullens (22), of Leach Street, Joshua Varey (24), of Duke Street, and Paul Ashworth (49), of Hawley Street, all appeared at Pennine Magistrates’ Court today.

Mullens and Varey both pleaded guilty to attempting to kill a badger, while Ashworth pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, namely a black cat. Ashworth had been recorded on a mobile phone camera trying to shake a terrified cat from a tree. Laughter could be heard in the background.

Footage was also shown in court of the badger attacks.

Ashworth was given a 76-day custodial sentence, and was disqualified from owning dogs for five years.

Mullens was handed a 114-day sentence, and was disqualified from owning dogs for ten years.

Varey received a 126-day sentence, and was disqualified from owning dogs for ten years.

The case had been brought forward by the RSPCA, with assistance from Lancashire Police.

Speaking outside the court following the sentencing, PC Nigel Keates said: “I think the sentence has been absolutely appropriate.

“These were sickening attacks on defenceless animals.

“I would appeal now for a little bit of calm and relief from anybody on social media. There has been a sentence, and the courts have done their duty.”


Joshua Varey previous conviction


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Three Men Guilty of Hare Coursing

On Wednesday 16th July three men from outside the county were found guilty at Lincoln Magistrates Court of offences relating to Hare Coursing.

Shane Fury and Andrew Lee, both aged 23 and from Manchester, and Anthony Basford (30), from Stoke, pleaded not guilty before District Judge Stobart in relation to an incident near Glentworth on 30 October 2013.

A local gamekeeper saw the men coursing with dogs and when police officers from the Operation Galileo team arrived, two of the men attempted to run off. They were challenged and detained by police, including a police dog handler, Sgt Moon. A dead hare was found in a hedge bottom where they were located.

In court the men claimed they were simply in the county with a view to buying a dog but had taken a wrong turn, and got out to walk dogs. The claim was described by Judge Stobart as ‘a complete cock and bull story’.

All three men were disqualified from driving for 6 months, ordered to pay costs of £600 each, and were fined. Fury and Basford were fined £300 each and Lee received a fine of £150.

Inspector Andy Ham said: “Last year’s hare coursing season has long finished but cases are still going through the courts. These men decided to chance their arm by pleading not guilty and coming up with the kind of excuses regularly heard by officers on the Operation Galileo team. In this case the Court evidently shared our view that scenic as Lincolnshire may be, groups of men really don’t travel to our county from around the UK just to walk their dogs. The financial penalties and inconvenience posed by disqualification from driving, will stay with them longer than any financial gain or pleasure derived from a day out trespassing on land to kill a hare”.

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United Utilities kills 60 Canada geese ‘because they were attacking staff’

Wednesday 9th July 2014

BIRD lovers have reacted furiously after United Utilities killed 60 Canada geese because they were attacking staff.

United Utilities bosses said the birds have bitten several staff at the firm’s head office in Lingley Mere, Warrington, and one woman even had to visit her GP after she was attacked.

The company, which supplies Bolton’s water, carried out the overnight cull – during the breeding season – on June 26 under what a spokesman described as "strict compliance with a licence".

But keen birdwatcher David Kennedy said the water giant has taken the "easiest option" killing the birds and it was "particularly cruel" to take action when goslings had just been born.

He added: “There were all kinds of options open to them like catching the birds and releasing them somewhere like Pennington Flash or putting up railings around the paths.

“Geese can be a nuisance but if they didn’t want that problem on site then why include two lakes in the first place?

“I have been told there are none left now but when the birds are back in five or six years what will they do next?

“They need a plan going ahead that doesn’t involve slaughtering birds.”

A petition calling for United utilities to "pledge to never kill Canada geese again" has already reached more than 400 signatures online.

A source, who did not want to be named, said that while some staff did not like the birds others regularly fed them and have been outraged by the news.

A spokesman for United Utilities said: “It was a difficult decision to reduce the numbers of Canada geese at Lingley Mere, and we appreciate it wasn’t something everyone would agree with, but it was important we took action to encourage other wildlife to thrive on site and stop people being injured.

“Several staff have been hurt after being bitten by the birds, which was very worrying as we have a children’s nursery on our land.”

The spokesman added the geese were also "damaging the environment" with bird poo, leading to high levels of phosphate in the lakes and increased algae, preventing pond weed from growing, which lowers oxygen levels and can kill fish.

He added: “Our aim is to increase the biodiversity of Lingley Mere and the lakes and widen the variety of wildlife here and we would never be able to achieve this with such a high level of Canada geese on site.”

Andrew Taylor, director of animal rights group Animal Aid, said United Utilities had to be held to account.

He added: "The company are offering no real information what measures were taken to minimise suffering.

"The idea these birds presented a threat to people and had to be killed for defecating is an extreme and absurd over-reaction."

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Government advisors support Badger Trust High Court legal challenge

1st July 2014


Government advisors support Badger Trust High Court legal challenge

The Badger Trust has been granted permission by a judge for a Judicial Review challenge in the High Court against the DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Natural England. The test case focuses on the Government’s highly controversial badger cull policy.

The Judicial Review will argue that Owen Paterson and Natural England have failed to put in place any Independent Expert Panel for the planned culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. The Trust contends such a Panel is needed to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation. Without this, there can be no proper assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision to continue with further culls around the country.

The Badger Trust legal challenge has received strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) set up by the Government to monitor the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls carried out in 2013.

Commenting on the Judicial Review challenge, Ranald Munro, Chairman of the IEP said

“The Independent Expert Panel’s report states clearly the rationale for ensuring that independent monitoring and the use of the
statistically robust sample sizes and analytical methods, as used in the 2013 culls, are followed in further culling exercises. If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the proposed 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness. This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP’s recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls.”

Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild welcomed the judge’s decision to grant permission for the Judicial Review challenge saying

“Owen Paterson has done all he can to prevent this Judicial Review case going to the High Court and he has failed. His refusal to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls due to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the next few months against the advice of the Independent Expert Panel he set up is a national disgrace.

“The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent, whilst poorly trained NFU contract gunmen move through our countryside at night shooting badgers with rifles and shotguns without any independent monitoring or scrutiny. We know from last year’s culls that many badgers were wounded and suffered long painful deaths in a disastrous operation, which proved a complete and utter failure on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds.

“I am very pleased to see that we have strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel and I look forward to joining Professor Tim Coulson in Parliament on Monday 7 July, when we will brief MP’s from all parties on why we believe they should also give their support to the Badger Trust legal challenge.

“I also call again on the British Veterinary Association to show animal welfare and humaneness is their number one priority by supporting the Badger Trust in the High Court.”

Badgers: Ministers ‘wilfully’ ignoring science advice

23 June 2014

A senior government adviser has described coalition plans to change the way the pilot badger culls are assessed as "an abuse" of the scientific method.

Prof Timothy Coulson is concerned the government is considering a less reliable way of assessing humaneness in the cull and numbers of badgers killed.

He is also concerned that it will scrap independent oversight.

It would also make it impossible to assess whether recommendations to improve the cull have worked.

The government no longer wants to know whether the pilots are effective or humane and I fear we may hear that the second year is a success once it is over”

Prof Timothy Coulson Government advisor

Writing in Animal Ecology in Focus, Prof Coulson says that ministers must be "wilfully" ignoring the concerns of its own scientists.

"I am tempted to speculate that the government no longer wants to know whether the pilots are effective or humane," he says in his article. "They just want to cull badgers, regardless of whether the population or humaneness consequences can be assessed."

He added: "And I fear we may hear that the second year is a success once it is over."

Prof Coulson told BBC News that he considered culling to be an "easy option" to make it look as if the government was trying to solve the spread of TB in cattle when it could actually make the problem worse if it failed to kill enough badgers.

"If culling worked I’d be fully supportive of them rolling it out, but all the evidence is that it does not," he told BBC News.

Prof Coulson, from the University of Oxford, is an internationally respected population biologist and was a member of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) that assessed the effectiveness, safety and humanness of two pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire last year.
Badger protests Protesters have questioned the rationale for the cull

A spokesman for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is running the pilot culls, said: "We will continue to monitor the effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls closely to assess the impact of the improvements we are making following the IEP’s recommendations."

"We are currently assessing the best and most cost-effective methods of doing this," she added. "Scientific evidence such as the findings of the IEP will always play an integral role in developing our approach to dealing with bovine TB, which includes strengthening cattle movement controls and developing vaccines for cattle and badgers."

We will continue to monitor the effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls closely to assess the impact of the improvements we are making following the IEP’s recommendations”

Defra spokesperson

However, Prof Coulson said that Defra ministers were not listening to the advice of their own scientists.

He told BBC News: "Government agencies are stuffed full of very competent scientists. Presumably the concerns that they must have raised are being wilfully ignored by government. I wonder why?

"I suspect the government no longer wants to know the answer to whether their ongoing pilot culls will deliver the required outcome."

Prof Rosie Woodroffe, of the Zoological Society of London, works closely with government employed scientists on the science of the badger cull. She told BBC News that she has "little doubt" that some scientists in Defra and other government agencies will be concerned that these culls will be ineffective and inhumane.

"I don’t know whether policymakers are not listening to their own scientists, or simply not seeking their own scientists’ views on what has become such a political issue."

Defra authorised two pilot culls over a four year period in Somerset and Gloucestershire last to see whether licensed marksmen could kill 70% of the badger population in the pilot areas, the number required to reduce the spread of TB in cattle. Defra agreed to independent oversight of the culls by the IEP. BBC News revealed earlier this year that the IEP concluded that the trials were ineffective and raised concerns about the number of badgers that died slowly after being shot by marksmen.

On the basis of that advice, Defra decided not to extend the culls to other parts of England as it had originally hoped – though the two pilot trials will continue for three more years as they are required to do under the culling licence issued by Natural England.

But Defra has decided not to continue with the independent oversight provided by the IEP. The department is also considering changing the method for assessing the number of badgers killed, citing cost as the reason.

Cost question

The method used last year involved analysing the genetic code of badgers in the cull area before the cull and then analysing the code of the badgers that were killed. Prof Coulson said this gave an accurate assessment of the proportion of badgers killed.

Instead, the BBC understands that Defra is considering two alternative approaches to monitor the culls. One of these is based on data from the companies that carried out the cull, but the IEP had little faith in these data, was critical of them in its report and did not use them.

The second method is based on a computer model which has not been validated for the two cull areas. The IEP was also critical of this in minutes of its meetings.

Prof Coulson has told BBC News that the "genotyping" work is not an expensive method and whatever method is used instead will be much less accurate. Genotyping costs around a £15-20 per badger and so the cost of doing the work should run into a few tens of thousands of pounds at most.

Ministers and farmers are hoping that this year’s pilots will be more effective than last year’s. To give policymakers, farmers and the public confidence in the outcome of the pilots, it’s essential that the same methods are used consistently”

Prof Rosie Woodroffe ZSL

"A cynic might speculate that (the change in method) is because following best animal ecology practice might lead to conclusions at odds with what the government seems unjustifiably determined to do," he said.

"In addition to changing the protocols, there is to be no more independent oversight of the ongoing culls. So who will oversee the analysis of data and the interpretation of results? The same folks that have decided to change the protocols half way through the experiment?"

The IEP made recommendations to improve humaneness which the government has accepted. The success or otherwise of these recommendations will also be hard to assess, according to Prof Coulson, because he believes the data on humaneness are not going to be collected from autopsies of badgers to assess how they were killed as was done last year.

Prof Woodroffe says that it won’t be possible to compare last year’s figures with the next set if the method used to count the badgers that have been killed is changed.

"Ministers and farmers are hoping that this year’s pilots will be more effective than last year’s. To give policymakers, farmers and the public confidence in the outcome of the pilots, it’s essential that the same methods are used consistently," she said.

Prof Coulson added that changing the way in which the experiment was assessed was "an abuse of the scientific method".

"’If the methods Defra are thought to be considering are used in place of those applied last year, it would be like starting a surgical procedure with a scalpel and forceps and finishing it with a garden spade and axe," he said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s World At One programme, the farming minister George Eustice said that Prof Coulson was "completely wrong".

"There are two separate things and I think he is confusing these two items, One is the monitoring and evaluation and last year we had 300 visits from (government) vets, compliance visits from Natural England and we carried out over 150 post mortems (of badger carcasses). That was the raw data that was collected," he said.

"Then there was the separate thing which is what the IEP did and that was really to give us advice on how we should treat the data we had. It was a one off project. They have given us advice on how we should treat that data and their work is over."
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Four men who filmed a dog brutally mauling a fox to death are jailed – Liverpool Echo

17th June 2014

Gang watched the dog carry out its attack while they claimed they were “rabbiting” in the Cheshire countryside

Four men who filmed a dog brutally mauling a fox to death as they stood by and encouraged it have been jailed for animal cruelty offences.

The gang – three members of which are from Merseyside – watched the dog carry out its sickening attack while they claimed they were “rabbiting” in the Cheshire countryside.

District Judge Bridgette Knight slammed the attack as “barbaric and medieval in its wickedness” while the RSPCA described the men as “thugs of the countryside”.

John Daly, 30, of Breeze Hill, Reece Welsh, 22, of Sunbourne Road, Liverpool, Ryan Kennedy, 24, of Townsend Avenue in Liverpool, and Daniel Ratchford, 29, of St Wilfreds Road, Wigan, were jailed for their roles in the incident after each pleaded guilty to animal cruelty offences.

During a hearing at Crewe magistrates’ court, defence solicitor Alison Downs – acting on behalf of Welsh, Kennedy and Ratchford – said the four men had started the day “legitimately” after being given permission to go rabbiting on land near to Brookfield Golf Club, close to Nantwich, on February 3, 2013.

She said what followed next was one of the group’s dogs running off and going into a sett, with a minute-long video then showing them “goading” a fox as it was attacked.

When the police arrived as the group were leaving the land, she said, they were “quick to say they had been rabbiting, but this is what happened” and had taken the officers to the area where they’d been and the dead fox was.

She added: “Some may say that was stupidity on their part. My submission is that on that day they were being honest.”

But prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, Kevin Worthington told the court the footage of the attack – which was obtained by an expert on behalf of the animal charity – “spoke for itself” and was one of the worst videos he had ever seen.

The horrific video captured a fox screaming in pain as a lurcher shakes it around in its mouth, while other terrier-type dogs and the group of men look on.

He said that none of the defendants had stepped in to stop the fox being attacked, and that mobile phones had also been placed down badger setts.

Locator collars, dog cages and spades had also been found in the van the group had arrived in.

The men were charged with offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and admitted their guilt earlier this year.

Daly pleaded guilty to two charges of interfering with badger setts, and one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to his female lurcher, Sadie, who was the dog seen attacking the fox in the film.

He was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison for the suffering caused to his dog, plus a further four weeks for each of the charges of interfering with a badger sett.

Welsh pleaded guilty to one charge of interfering with badger setts and one charge of being a “responsible person failing to prevent the causing of unnecessary suffering to an animal”.He was sentenced to a total of 16 weeks in prison.

Kennedy and Ratchford also pleaded guilty to being a “responsible person” in relation to the lurcher and its suffering and were both sentenced to 12 weeks.

Each of the men will serve half of their sentences and must pay £200 to the RSPCA to help toward the £25,000 cost of the investigation.

They have been disqualified from keeping, or being involved in the care and transportation, of dogs for life.

DJ Knight said there was “overwhelming evidence” that badger setts had been interfered with, adding that the six-month maximum prison term for that offence was “perhaps something Parliament should consider looking at again”.

Anthony Joynes, the RSPCA officer who helped bring the four men to justice, added: “There’s no other way to describe these men other than thugs of the countryside – wildlife criminals”.

Hunt monitors and hunt sabs on Channel 5

Leading hunt monitor [not
the Heythrop's favourite person] and POWA Associate Judy Gilbert is appeared on Channel 5′s ‘Angry Britain’ on [Thursday, 12th June] at 8pm. She was filmed monitoring the last Heythrop meet of the season and interviewed at home. Watch it via Channel 5 catch-up (link below). The piece starts at 27 mins into the prog.
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Three arrests as part of dog-fighting ring investigation in Devon | Exeter Express and Echo

June 11, 2014

POLICE investigating a suspected dog-fighting ring have made three more arrests as part of a lengthy joint investigation with the RSPCA.

This morning police and RSPCA officers carried out three warrants under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 at three locations in Devon.

The inquiry centres around an alleged dog fighting ring which involves attacks on deer – including young fawns – foxes and wild boar.

Shortly after 8am on Wednesday officers executed the warrants at properties in Plympton, Beatland Cross and Walkhampton and as a result three men were later arrested on suspicion of causing unnecessary suffering and keeping dogs for fighting.

All three men – one aged 17, another aged 32 and a third in his 20s – were bailed to a later date after questioning at Plymouth’s Charles Cross police station.

These recent arrests follow the arrests of nine men which were made on January 9 this year. During a series of warrants executed on that day by Devon and Cornwall Police officers and RSPCA officers 16 dogs – including lurchers, running dogs and Staffordshire cross-breed type dogs – were seized.

Investigators have also seized and analysed a number of mobile phones belonging to the arrested men.

In addition, officers seized a number of animal carcasses and body parts of a deer.

Police have said the ongoing inquiry – titled Operation Spearhead – has come about as a result of community intelligence which has seen Plymouth work with the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the RSPCA for several months.

All of the men arrested have been bailed to a later date pending further inquiries.
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The Reverend and Worshipful Professor Doctor Barry Peachey

Watch online via the link above

This man defends badger diggers and even wrote a book in 1992 on how to dig for badgers called ‘Hunting the Badger’.

He appeared on BBC1 tonight in a programme by Panorama called Undercover: Justice for Sale?

An undercover Panorama investigation has found some paid expert witnesses prepared to provide helpful court reports despite a client’s confession.

Only one of nine expert witnesses approached did not want to get involved after the reporters admitted "guilt".

They included animal expert Prof Barry Peachey who suggested a false defence for a reporter who "confessed" to interfering with a badger sett.

He later insisted his report was truthful and accurate.

One was animal scientist Prof Barry Peachey, who specialises in the law protecting badgers.

The reporter told him he had deliberately put a dog in a sett in pursuit of a badger, an offence that can carry a six-month jail sentence. He said he feared he had been filmed by a passer-by and could face prosecution.

During the secret filming, Prof Peachey acknowledged the reporter had broken the law.

"What you’ve done and what they can prove are two entirely different things," he told him.

He continued: "Your defence is that this was a pure accident… You were walking your dog along and the dog suddenly saw a badger and dived down a hole and all you were trying to do is get it back."

He then produced a report for use in court, which correctly described the badger sett as active, but which also set up the false defence by saying the sett was not visible to the casual passer-by.

Prof Peachey also said he would be willing to give evidence in court saying that it was "highly likely" the dog entered the sett by accident.

In total he charged £2,223 for his report.

He said his report was truthful and accurate and he had no financial incentive not to tell the truth. He said the facts of the incident had not been made clear and he would never lie in court.


Professor Barry Peachey, who specialises in the law protecting badgers, provided a court report for a journalist who said he had intentionally interfered with a badger sett, a criminal offence which carries a potential six-month jail term.

The expert was captured on camera telling the undercover reporter: ‘Your defence in this case isn’t that it isn’t a heaving badger sett, your defence is that this was a pure accident…

‘You were walking your dog along and the dog suddenly saw a badger and dived down a hole and all you were trying to do is get it back.’

His report, for which he charged £2,223, noted that many people would not have realised badgers lived there. He wrote: ‘It was not at all obvious to any casual passer-by that there was a badger sett nearby.’

Prof Peachey indicated that he would be prepared to give evidence in court, saying: ‘You’re saying it’s an accident, they are asking me whether or not I think it is a credible accident and I say, “yes, highly likely”.’

He also advised the reporter not to speak openly to his solicitor, telling him: ‘Don’t tell them the truth under any circumstances.’

Responding to Panorama’s investigation, Prof Peachey strongly denied that his report had backed up a false defence.

He said: ‘The court report does nothing except deal with the ecology of the site, which is exactly what I was asked to do, which is completely 100 per cent truthful and accurate, and makes no mention whatsoever of his motives or actions.’

The expert said he twice told the undercover reporter that he would not lie in court for anybody.

He added: ‘For people to come to me and say that they’re guilty is absolutely nothing new. It happens, and very often they’re not (guilty)… You don’t just go to see a solicitor and tell him that you’re guilty when you don’t know what the case against you is.’

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Dog fighting on Channel 4 – 10pm Thur 12 June 85 minutes long

Dog fighting has been identified as a growing problem in inner cities. Filmmaker Penny Woolcock engages with people involved in dog fighting and explores attitudes to blood sports.

In this Cutting Edge documentary, multi-award-winning filmmaker Penny Woolcock is reunited with former gang member Dylan Duffus to explore the criminal subculture of the dog fighting world, as they examine our conflicted relationship with animals.

Demonised by the media, certain breeds of dog are seen as status symbols, and some are also trained to fight. Dog fighting has been identified by the police and RSPCA as a growing problem in inner-city areas.

In this challenging film Penny engages with those involved in dog fighting and meets academics and historians to question attitudes to blood sports and our treatment of animals as commodities.

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