Dogs forced into underground fights with badgers suffer horrific injuries

24 April 2015
By Euan Stretch

Three dogs were ­appallingly wounded when they were forced into underground fights with badgers.

Steve Alston, who trained his Patterdale terriers on a treadmill, filmed the dogs down badger setts.

Police found them with injured snouts and jaws.

The dogs’ ordeal only came to light when police visited the home of Steve Alston in Littlebourne, near Canterbury, Kent, because his wife’s mobile phone malfunctioned and repeatedly dialled 999.

A court heard the wounds were consistent with bites from badgers or foxes.

Alston, 49, of Littlebourne, Kent, admitted providing dogs for badger and fox baiting and failing to provide veterinary treatment.

Sentencing was adjourned.

District Judge Justin Barron, sitting at Dover, said: “You were using dogs to fight wild animals.

"Your culpability is high as you were going out to kill wild animals.

"This is the highest level of seriousness and I am actively considering a custodial sentence."

The RSPCA said: “Animal fighting involving dogs and wildlife is an extremely serious form or premeditated cruelty.

"The RSPCA is dedicated to investigating such allegations and bringing these matters before the courts for them to consider."

Badger baiting was banned in the UK in 1835.
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Campaign to unmask violent anti-hunt protesters is stepped up after attackers go unpunished

April 19, 2015

Rural campaigners are stepping up pressure to have violent anti-hunt protesters unmasked after police unexpectedly dropped an investigation into an horrific attack.

The pro-hunt Countryside Alliance wants police forces to use more widely the powers they already have to force masked demonstrators to show their faces. In the longer term they want a change in the law to make it easier for officers to insist protesters take off their masks.

The Alliance’s campaign was launched after a series of high profile incidents involving masked demonstrators, including one which left a Wiltshire huntsman with head injuries.

Wiltshire police have now suspended their inquiries into that incident, despite witnesses providing them with video evidence, the names of alleged attackers and car registration numbers.

A police spokesman said: “‘We have been unable to move the inquiry further forward. At this stage the case has been recorded as undetected, however should other evidence come to light then it will be re-opened.”

But the Alliance – which believes protesters on either side of the hunting debate, pro or anti – should be unmasked – fears the case will send a message to the thugs that covering up allows them to attack knowing they will go unpunished.

Tim Bonner, director of campaigns for the Countryside Alliance said: “The fact that the law on face coverings is so unwieldy is an incitement to violence. These anti-hunting thugs are carrying out attacks with impunity knowing they can hide behind their balaclavas and will not be brought to book.

“There have been at least three vicious attacks in recent years where those responsible could not be identified – will it take a death before action is taken to remove this loophole in the law?

“The police need to look very closely at this issue and we believe there needs to be a change in the law to allow police officers to unmask these violent criminals.”

A video of the Wiltshire incident along with other evidence was given to the police after the assault at Everleigh, near Amesbury.

Thirty 30 riders and their hounds who were following an artificial scent came under attack in January.

The victim, Mike Lane, is joint master of the Tedworth Hunt. He was sent flying to the ground, before being kicked in the head. He was admitted to hospital with concussion and broken teeth and his face was swollen. Since the attack he has suffered memory loss.

Despite the masks, the face of the thug who kicked Mr Lane was captured on video and police issued the suspect’s photograph, although he has not been identified.

Mr Lane has now told the Mail on Sunday: “I’ve been told by police they are shelving their inquiries due to insufficient evidence. It’s angered us because we gave them evidence. I’m beginning to lose my trust in the police.”

There have been a series of other rural incidents in the South West – including one in Dorset alleged to have involved hunt followers attacking protesters – in the past few months.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association has repeatedly defended the right of its members to wear masks when peacefully protesting against hunting, claiming it protects them against intimidation and reprisals.

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Otis Ferry (AGAIN) fails to pay thousands promised after civil assault of two women

The deadline for the payment was more than a year ago, but neither the victims or their solicitors, Howe & Co, has received any money

Sunday 12 April 2015

More than a year after agreeing to pay thousands of pounds in damages for his part in the civil assault of two women, fox hunting advocate Otis Ferry has yet to give his victims a penny – even after bailiffs allegedly visited his house in an attempt to recover the money.

John Deustch, who was hunting with Otis Ferry when the incident occurred, has also not paid the victims any money. Brentford County Court ordered Deutsch to pay £17,000 in damages to Susan Grima and £14,000 to Helen Ghalmi, with a reported contribution of £16,000 to come from Mr Ferry, along with legal costs estimated in the thousands, in March last year.

The civil court judge found them guilty of assault and gave them a fortnight to pay the two women, who were monitoring a meeting in November 2007 of the Heythrop Hunt, based in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, when the incident occurred. According to a witness account of the incident, accepted by Judge Powles, Ms Ghalmi was driving her car with Ms Grima as a passenger when they passed two horse riders – one of whom was Mr Ferry, who was talking on his mobile phone. A car driven by Mr Deutsch pulled up behind them and Ms Ghalmi pulled off the road to let it pass. But Mr Deutsch got out of his car, shouted abuse at the two women and smashed the side-window next to Ms Grima.

At that point, Mr Ferry joined in, snatching Mrs Ghalmi’s video-camera. He rode off with the device and subsequently deleted the footage it had captured, according to witness statements.

The deadline for the payment was more than a year ago, but neither the victims or their solicitors, Howe & Co, has received any money.

“I find it shocking that Mr Ferry has still to make a single payment. To say I feel disgusted but unsurprised by his behaviour would be an understatement…” Ms Ghalmi told The Independent.

Mr Deutsch declined to comment, while Mr Ferry and his solicitor did not reply to requests to comment.

Ms Galmi and Ms Grima brought their civil claim against Mr Deutsch and Mr Ferry because they were dissatisfied with the outcome of a criminal case brought in relation to the same incident by the Crown Prosecution Service. In the criminal case, Mr Ferry and Mr Deutsch pleaded guilty to a public order offence of affray and paid a £350 fine, while the more serious charges of assault and battery were dropped.

Mr Ferry, the son of Roxy Music singer Bryan, is a prominent figure in the fox hunting world. He is a pro-hunt activist and Joint Master of the South Shropshire Hunt who famously disrupted a debate on fox hunting in Parliament in 2004.

He also fronts Vote-OK, a pro-hunting lobby group whose members are campaigning on behalf of several Conservative candidates on the understanding they will vote to repeal the Hunting Act if the Tories win the General Election. It is understood that Mr Ferry was out when the bailiffs called at his home.

The Prime Minister has promised to hold a parliamentary vote to repeal the Hunting Act, brought in by Labour in 2005. On Saturday last week Cameron and 107 members of the Heythrop Hunt campaigned for Nicola Blackwood, who is defending her Oxford West and Abingdon seat.
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Malta bird hunters celebrate referendum victory

Malta bird hunters celebrate referendum victory
By Mario Cacciottolo BBC News, Malta

The head of a hunting association in Malta says he is "ecstatic" that a ban on spring hunting has been rejected.

Unofficial figures from a referendum show that the "Yes" campaign to retain hunting in the spring had won by about 4,000 votes.

Joe Perici Calascione of the Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) described spring hunting as "an integral part" of the hunting tradition in Malta.

Birdlife Malta said conservation efforts in Malta would now be an "uphill struggle".

Times of Malta political analyst Herman Grech said that the result is a surprise because surveys were consistently showing a 7% lead for the "No" camp.

But he said many voters appear to have abided by the wishes of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who came out in favour of hunting, as did the leader of the opposition.

Mr Muscat said that the initial results from the referendum suggested the "Yes" camp – to keep spring hunting – had won by just over 50% of the votes.

He was quoted by the Times of Malta as saying that referendum had given a final chance to hunters when the season begins on Tuesday and that any abuses by them would not be tolerated.

Malta is the only EU country that allows recreational spring hunting. It has two derogations – or exceptions – in place from the European Union’s Birds Directive which regulates the hunting of birds across the EU.

These particular exceptions allow the Maltese to hunt turtle doves and quail in the spring, but only under strict regulations.

The vote to keep hunting was won by the narrowest of margins

Conservationists argue that some hunters shoot other protected species and that the two species legally targeted are migrating to breed as they pass over Malta into Europe.

Some 45,000 Maltese signed a petition last year to hold a vote on whether to ban the spring hunting season, which runs from the middle to the end of April.

Mr Calascione said that the right of hunters to shoot turtle doves and quail was "their life".

Hunters in Malta are allowed to shoot quail in the spring season

Bird hunting in Malta

  • Spring hunting limit set at 11,000 turtle doves and 5,000 quail – a quota worked out on number of hunting kills made in the autumn season
  • Spring hunters are not allowed to kill more than two birds a day and are limited to four birds per hunter in the whole season
  • There are 10,000 licensed hunters who must apply for a special spring hunting licence
  • Hunters are legally required to declare every time they go hunting or when they make a kill
  • Hunting fines are a €5,000 fine for a first offence, a year in prison and licence revoked. Secondary offences are a €10,000 fine and two years in jail

"We’re the most regulated country in Europe with regards to hunting," he said.

"The hunting we do is sustainable. There is a limit on the hunting bag, and the time we can hunt."

Birdlife Malta’s Romina Tolu said that the closeness of the vote showed that the campaign to stop spring hunting "had managed to get the support of the people".

"It was run by a group of 14 NGOs. We had no political support," she said.

A ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2009 found that Malta had been in breach of EU law by allowing spring hunting because it had failed to fulfil its obligations under the Birds Directive.

But since then, successive Maltese governments have continued to pass legislation that allows the EU exceptions to apply, so that spring hunting can continue.
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Badger baiter Michael Haigh jailed for minimum of 17 years after deliberately running over his “friend” – Liverpool Echo

10 April 2015
By Neil Docking

A badger-baiter who murdered a dad-of-two in a hit and run attack after an argument over a hunting dog was jailed for life with a minimum of 17 years.

Michael Haigh, 25, admitted being the driver of a Jeep Cherokee which struck Ryan Kennedy and crushed him into a wall in Gable View, Norris Green.

But he claimed he hit his 24-year-old best friend by accident when trying to “scare him” after “banter”.

Haigh, of Buttermere Crescent, Rainford, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but was found guilty of murder after an eight-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, said he left his friend to die in a pile of rubble and then went on the run for eight days while trying to cover his tracks.

He said: “It was your case that you had driven towards him intending to do no more than frighten him and that this was in the context of normal banter between you.

“After you had crushed him, you reversed and sped away from the scene without summoning any assistance and lay low for a week, knowing that he had died.

“It was your case that you had done so because you were in a state of shock at what you had done, taking the life of the man who you said was your best friend and to you like a brother. The truth of the situation is rather different.”

Pair had been jailed for badger-baiting

Mr Kennedy and another man called Reece Welsh had been jailed for badger-baiting in June 2014 and banned for life from owning, keeping or transporting dogs.

Judge Goldstone said Haigh and Welsh arrived at Mr Kennedy’s parents’ house at around 2pm on November 1 last year with a seriously injured and scarred dog, asking him for the number of a “bent or tame vet” who would not report them to the police, but he could or would not.

Judge Goldstone said: “You were very angry and lost your temper. You said something to him by way of a threat, which prompted him to say to you and your passenger, a fellow badger-baiter, that he wasn’t scared of you.

“That inflamed you even more and you decided to teach him a lesson, so you deliberately drove into him.

“You may not have intended to kill him, but nor did you care one way or the other whether he lived.

“You abandoned him in his greatest hour of need but not as you said because you were in a state of shock or panic but because you wanted to cover your tracks.

“Had he been like a brother to you, no amount of shock or panic would have prevented you either stopping there and then to help him, calling the emergency services or by assisting the police. Your behaviour in the aftermath of the collision was as cowardly as it was callous.”

Paramedics rushed Mr Kennedy to Aintree Hospital, but he could not be saved.

His injuries included multiple broken ribs, bruising to the heart, cuts to his internal organs and a dislocated left shoulder.

Haigh then took steps to conceal his mobile phone and the Jeep, which have never been found.

Nigel Power, QC, prosecuting, read from a statement prepared by Mr Kennedy’s family in which they said they had “lost everything”.

They said: “Our lives have been changed forever. Things will never be the same without Ryan. Ryan’s two beautiful children have had their daddy taken away from them.”

They said Haigh had tried to embellish that he was Mr Kennedy’s best friend when “he was an occasional friend and no more”.

The family said: “Ryan did nothing wrong and did not deserve to die in the callous and cowardly way that he did.

“We will never forgive Michael Haigh for taking away our precious son.”

The court heard Haigh had previous convictions for assault causing actual bodily harm, possessing a weapon and intimidating a witness when still at school in 2005.

He was also a burglar and twice guilty of battery.

Ian Unsworth, QC, defending said he wished to express his “deep sorrow” and was remorseful.

But the court heard he had sent a letter to the mother of Mr Kennedy’s partner that had caused great offence.

Judge Goldstone said: “It was a cynical effort to paint you as a man who would never have done anything intentionally to hurt Ryan Kennedy.

“It was a ploy through which the jury saw. You have left Ryan Kennedy’s family without a loving son, brother, partner and father.”

Haigh blew kisses to his family, who shouted “stay strong kid” and “keep your chin up” as he was led down from the dock.
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Tom Worby gone but never forgotten

On the 3rd of April 1993, 22 years to this day, Tom Worby a 15 year old on his first day out sabbing in the United Kingdom was crushed beneath the wheels of the Cambridgeshire Foxhounds hound van.

The van had been driven at high speed towards sabs and Tom was unable to get out of the way in time. He was caught on the side of the van and dragged along, the driver huntsman Anthony Ball refused to stop and carried on at speed until Tom lost his grip and fell beneath the back wheel. Ball carried on at speed straight back to the kennels where he was protected by police. The hunt and support present laughed and declared it a victory while Tom died in his girlfriends arms. Anthony Ball was never prosecuted.

Wherever you are in the world please put Tom Worby in your thoughts today.

RIP Tom, never forgotten – Cambridgeshire Foxhounds never forgiven.
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Badger-baiter accused of murdering dad-of-two in hit and run attack after arguing over hunting dog

Michael Haigh accused of murdering dad-of-two in hit and run attack after argument

31 March 2015
By Neil Docking

Haigh admits driving a Jeep which struck Ryan Kennedy and forced him into a wall in Gable View, Norris Green, but denies his murder

A badger-baiter went on trial accused of murdering a dad-of-two in a hit and run attack after arguing over a hunting dog.

Michael Haigh, 25, admits being the driver of a Jeep Cherokee which struck Ryan Kennedy and forced him into a wall in Gable View, Norris Green.

He claims he hit his 24-year-old “best mate” by accident and has admitted manslaughter.

But prosecutors told Liverpool Crown Court he “deliberately drove” the car at his friend and an argument overheard by a witness may have “ultimately led to Mr Kennedy’s untimely death”.

Nigel Power, QC, prosecuting, said: “The argument was very heated and sounded serious.

“She heard the defendant call Mr Kennedy a “b***-end”. Mr Kennedy took up the argument with a man in the passenger seat of the car, saying ‘I’m not frightened of you’.”

She said Haigh got in the car and drove it at speed towards Mr Kennedy – prompting her to call 999.

Mr Power said: “She saw that the wall had been destroyed and Mr Kennedy was among the rubble.

“He was saying ‘help me, help me, I want my phone’ and she handed it to him.”

The court was played a recording of a further 999 call made by the woman, when Mr Kennedy could be heard crying for help.

Paramedics attended the scene and rushed him to Aintree Hospital, but he could not be saved.

His injuries included multiple broken ribs, bruising to the heart, cuts to his internal organs and a dislocated left shoulder.

The court heard he had two children with his partner and left her home on November 1 to go to his parents’ house.

He knew Haigh and the passenger in the car, Reece Welsh, as Mr Kennedy and Welsh were jailed for “badger baiting” in June and banned for life from owning, keeping or transporting dogs.

The Jeep was bought on October 27 in Litherland by someone who gave a false name. Haigh was present and insured himself to drive the car.

On November 1, Mr Kennedy rang Haigh at around 10am.

The court heard Haigh and Welsh were looking for a vet to treat an injured Jack Russell called Jake and Welsh tried to call a vet using a false name.

Welsh called Mr Kennedy’s partner and by 2pm the Jeep was near his parents’ home, ahead of the incident at 2.10pm.

The Jeep was last seen at 1am the next day on Walton Hall Avenue.

Mr Power said: “His phone has never been recovered. More to the point, the car has never been recovered.

“The defendant simply would not help the police to locate it.”

Mr Power said a signal sent to the car’s tracker device failed, adding: “Reasons for non-activation include deliberately removing or tampering with a device.”

Haigh handed himself into police eight days later and told officers the crash was “just an accident”.

He said he “goes out with the dogs for badgers and the dog in the back of his car was smashed”, he added Mr Kennedy was his “best mate” and he went to see him to get the number for a vet.

Mr Power said: “He said they exchanged friendly insults and then Mr Kennedy approached the car. He said ‘I’ve like jerked it to scare him… and it just went too far’.

“He said he panicked and drove away.”

Haigh told police that after the crash he “just laid low” and did not know where the car was.

He said he had been too scared to contact Mr Kennedy’s family and would not say where the injured dog was, adding his phone had “just gone”.

Haigh said there were no raised voices, he was not aggressive and did not argue with his friend.

Haigh, of Buttermere Crescent in Rainford, denies murder.

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Four charged for suspected hare coursing


Four men were set to appear before magistrates charged with hare coursing in West Ilsley.

John Light, 34, of Mylum Close, Whitley Wood, Reading, has been charged with offences under the Hunting Act.

Four men were arrested by Thames Valley Police near Bury Lane, West Ilsley on October 26, last year.

A gamekeeper had called police after spotting men on his land with lurcher dogs and believed them to be hare coursing.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said four men were charged last Thursday.

Light has been charged with daytime trespassing in pursuit of game poaching, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and driving without insurance.

Jimmy James, 33, of Aldermaston Road, Tadley, was charged with daytime trespassing in pursuit of game poaching, possession of a bladed article in a public place and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

Albert Kempster, 33, of Arters Lawn, Southampton, and Kirk Rees, 43, of Macauley Gardens, Newport, Gwent, were both charged with daytime trespassing in pursuit of game poaching.

The four were released on bail to appear at Newbury Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 5th February.
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Why I am still sabotaging fox hunts 10 years after they were banned

By Lee Moon

A lack of interest by the police and judiciary means hunters are getting away with ripping apart animals in the name of ‘sport’

Monday 30 March 2015

As a hunt saboteur, I spend every Saturday during the hunting season intervening to save wildlife. During August and September, when the hunts are training their young hounds to kill fox cubs, this means getting up at 3am to be in position for when they start their vile “sport” at dawn. Some people will ask what motivates an ordinary person like me to devote so much of my spare time to this. Well, it’s wrong to take the life of another being for pleasure. It’s worse to call it sport. And worse still to use so many resources to make the odds so unfair – the fox doesn’t stand much of a chance without intervention from “sabs”.

I started sabotaging hunts when I was 19 and hunting with hounds was still legal. I had never considered myself an animal lover but the idea of hunts ripping apart an animal in the name of sport struck me as unfair. I knew I had to try and stop it. While involved with an environmental group, I heard about hunt sabotage and went along to a meeting in the back room of a dingy pub. It was a whole new world and I didn’t understand much of what was being discussed, but I was determined to get involved.

My first time out sabbing was a gruesome and memorable day. I was petrified in the morning as we set off and had little idea of what to expect. Luckily, other members of the group were reassuring and welcoming. During the day, despite our best efforts, the hunt killed a fox. We managed to retrieve the body and discovered they had killed a pregnant vixen; two of the unborn cubs hanging out of her shredded body were still alive. There was nothing we could do and the cubs quickly died. I was sickened – my stomach turns when I remember that beautiful creature and her vicious death. The hunters present seemed to think this was acceptable.

A few weeks later our group intervened and saved a fox. We saw it running across a field and could hear the hounds in cry. One of the experienced sabs used horn calls to distract the hounds, giving the fox enough time to escape. I knew then that I had to learn these skills. These two incidents made me realise how effective we could be, and that’s why I’m still sabotaging hunts almost 20 years later.

When the Hunting Act 2004 became law in 2005, we thought we could hang up our sabbing boots and get on with our lives. But sadly this was not the case. Hunters, while trying to portray respectability, decided to break the law. Repeatedly, every week. Not the occasional “accident” but full-on defiance. Furious at having their “sport” curtailed, hunters continue to chase and kill stags, foxes, hares and mink. Hunting has been allowed to continue, largely unaffected by the Hunting Act due to a lack of understanding and interest by the police, Crown Prosecution Service and judiciary.

Hunt saboteurs use non-violent direct action to disrupt hunts. We care about all animals, not just the fox (or other hunted animals), so would never do anything to harm hounds, horses or indeed human hunt supporters. Hunts frequently believe and have propagated all sorts of crazy stories about us over the years, claiming that we are funded by the KGB, that we spray acid in dogs’ faces, and string piano wires at head height to kill hunters, and even stab horses. Why would a movement made up of vegans attack animals? The simple answer is that we don’t and never would. Only last week a judge, while throwing out a case against four sabs, commented: “All of you contribute immensely to society, not only in your working lives but in your free time. You deserve high praise for managing yourselves and your behaviour.”

In contrast, hunters often react with violence and aggression when sabs successfully disrupt a kill. I have been punched, kicked, spat on and beaten with sticks while sabbing, and other saboteurs have received far worse.

Mike Hill and Tom Worby were killed while disrupting hunts (although no one was ever brought to justice); Steve Christmas spent months in hospital after being run over.

To add insult to injury, the police are prejudiced against us. They prefer to act as private security for the illegal hunters rather than enforce the law. Even when confronted by terrier men, whose mere presence is a sign of lawbreaking, the police refuse to act.

David Cameron has repeatedly promised to repeal the hunting ban. This has only succeeded in highlighting the fact that hunting continues. The majority of the public believe this cruel sport ended 10 years ago and are shocked to find it still goes on. There is hope, however. Hunt saboteur numbers have increased significantly in the past three years, partly due to the unpopular badger culls.

So the situation a decade after the ban looks pretty similar to the situation a decade before it. Hunts across the country continue to chase and rip apart animals, albeit illegally now, and hunt saboteurs are successfully stopping them. One thing is for certain though – as long as people kill for sport there will be saboteurs.
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Support Lush and support the HSA

This weekend Lush shops across England are working in solidarity to support the animal rights campaign group, Hunt Saboteurs Association.

The hunts are still at it…

10 years after the ban hunts continue prolifically across our country with swaggering disregard for the law and blatant intent to hunt and kill foxes.

With a lack of police presence in the field the Hunt Saboteurs Association, at considerable risk to themselves, monitor, film and collect evidence of illegal hunting to pass onto authorities. They use direct action non-violence to save the lives of thousands of hunted animals every season.

Support the HSA by buying our Charity Pot Body Lotion in store this weekend #charitypot #lushcosmetics

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