Eston dad caught on camera attempting to kill a badger

11 Nov 2015
By James Cain

David Nightingale, 24, was caught out when RSPCA officers found pictures of the attempted badger kill on his mobile phone

An Eston dad was caught on camera as he attempted to kill a badger.

David Nightingale, of Oakley Walk, Eston, was caught after RSPCA officers found pictures of the attempted killing on his mobile phone.

The 24-year-old today appeared before Hartlepool magistrates where he admitted a single count of attempting to kill a badger.

The court was told how the pictures were discovered after police and RSPCA officers went to Nightingale’s home with a warrant.

They found two dogs living in filthy conditions with no water.

Nightingale’s mobile phone was taken as part of the investigation, and as a result of analysis, the more serious offence of attempting to kill a badger was identified.

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 whilst 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 this year and took photographs of what was happening on his mobile telephone.

“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 form of kudos.”

Nightingale came under the scrutiny of the RSPCA after they became aware of a video from his Facebook account showing dogs killing a wild rabbit.

No evidence of hunting was found when police and RSPCA officers went to Nightingale’s home on March 26.

Nightingale was convicted in July of animal welfare offences with regard to the dogs found at his home and given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.

His dogs were re-homed by the RSPCA.

Colin Sleeman, defending, said: “There’s no evidence of an actual kill, or injury, or taking of a badger. Bear that in mind when deciding how to deal with Mr Nightingale.”

Mr Sleeman described how Nightingale had recently become a father and was looking to set up home together with his family.

He also noted that, because the new charges related to events that happened before the previous sentence was imposed, there had been no breach of a suspended sentence.

Sentencing Nightingale, chairman of the bench Martin Slimings, said: “We realise that before the original offences you were of good character.

“If all the charges had been brought to the same bench, there might have been a different sentence. What we’re going to do today reflects that.

“We put this in the highest bracket of seriousness.”

Nightingale was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months – extending the original suspended sentence by four months.

He was also ordered to pay £690 costs and £80 in charges and was banned from keeping dogs for five years.
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Gamekeeper fined after badger electrocuted in snare

Wednesday 4 November 2015

A MAN has been fined £600 after a badger was caught up in a snare and electrocuted for more than 24 hours.

The animal’s head was left partially suspended from a live electric fence in Aberdeenshire after the snare was set by George Allan.

He was caught after an investigation by the Scottish SPCA which included inspectors working with scientists from the Natural History Museum in London to determine when the badger had become trapped.

Mr Allan, 61, of Kene, earlier pleaded guilty to setting a snare and failing to inspect it within 24 hours and failing to fit the necessary identity tags, contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011.

He was fined when he appeared for sentencing at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

An undercover inspector with the Scottish SPCA said: “The badger’s head was partially suspended from a live electric fence and would have been subjected to a continuous electric current.

“With assistance of the Natural History Museum in London, forensic entomology was carried out on the fly larvae found on the dead badger.
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“The scientist was able to establish the age of the larvae and determined that the badger had remained in the snare for longer than 24 hours.

“This is the first time forensic entomology has been used in a Scottish SPCA investigation and we wish to thank PAW Forensic Working Group for their expertise and financial assistance.”

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Five charged with affray after Boxing Day attack on Colne Valley hunt protesters

3 Nov 2015

Two men are still wanted for questioning over the incident which hunt saboteurs say they captured on film

Five men have been charged following a Boxing Day hunt attack.

They have been accused of affray during an attempted hunt meet by the Colne Valley Beagles at the Jack O’Mitre pub in Scammonden last December, which was attended by hunt protesters.

The men were charged following an appeal published in the Examiner in July to identify four people from stills of a video taken by one of 12 protesters present on the day at the New Hey Road site.

The protesters were all believed to be from a local wing of the national organisation Hunt Saboteurs and had gathered to monitor the club’s rabbit and trail hunt.

According to their spokesman, Lee Moon, the group filmed an altercation in which two hunt saboteurs were dragged out of their van , which he said was smashed with baseball bats, before before being assaulted by a group of several people.

The hunt meet was then abandoned as a result of the incident, which was attended by police.

But PC Angela Lister, said that two men they would like to speak to “remain outstanding”.

One of the men wanted by police in connection with the alleged assault of two hunt saboteurs at the Colne Valley Beagle Boxing Day meet at the Jack O’Mitre on Scammonden

She said: “The five will appear in court at some point in the next several weeks but two other men remain outstanding.

“We would like people to help us identify these two, one of whom we believe was the ring leader.

One of the men wanted by police in connection with the alleged assault of two hunt saboteurs at the Colne Valley Beagle Boxing Day meet at the Jack O’Mitre on Scammonden

“One was wearing a green sweatshirt and the other was wearing a black and brown jacket with a black face covering.”

Anyone with any information about the men should call the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

In unrelated investigations, police would like to speak to the people pictured in the image gallery below. The people pictured in the images may be witnesses as well as suspects. If you recognise anyone, contact police on 101 quoting the reference number on the image caption.

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What a horrible man

Hunter who posted picture of decapitated fox head fails to get gun licence back

Mark Lowery has failed in his attempt to get his gun licences back

30 October 2015

A HUNTER who put a picture of a fox head on the internet in a controversial attempt to "spark debate" has lost a court bid to have his gun licences back.

Mark Lowery caused worldwide fury with the image of the decapitated animal and claims he had death threats and menacing messages about his wife being harmed.

Despite a previous warning from police over an incident when he "intimidated" a former tenant with a gun, Mr Lowery again acted "irresponsibly", a judge said.

The Northern Echo: A campaign to get Mark Lowery removed from Facebook was launched after he posted pictures of a fox head

The 45-year-old said he expected a backlash from anti-hunting campaigners, but not on the scale it occurred – although he said it "was just all talk".

He told Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, sitting with magistrates at Teesside Crown Court: "I wanted to show people how vile and nasty the antis and saboteurs are."

Yesterday’s hearing was given details of a number of "provocative" postings keen shooter Mr Lowery had made on Facebook and a countryside debate forum.

Above the picture of the fox – which he says he cut up but did not kill – stuck on a spike, he wrote: "Dear anti c***s. You are warned, love Mark."

He also posted "one Facebook ban = one fox" and later wrote: "F*** you antis. You have cost a fox which was not near a farm or any livestock its life."

Mr Lowery, who lives near Hartlepool, and now claims he has never shot a fox in his life, also told opponents: "Just for you, any more bans and another fox dies."

Sergeant Gary Hatton told the court: "He brought the threats upon himself through his own irresponsibility. He probably got more than he bargained for."

Cleveland Police deputy chief constable Iain Spittal said: "He is the type of individual to behave in an irresponsible manner and this gave me concern for the safety of the public.

"It is the duty of the police to protect people from harm, and on this basis it is not appropriate for him to continue to have ready access to firearms."

Mr Lowery told the court that the account given to police by his former tenant – who he described as a criminal and drug-addict – was "mostly a work of fiction".

He said a Christmas Eve Facebook photo of a shotgun up his chimney with a mince pie on the end and a note "bring it on you fat f***ing burglar" was "just a joke".

There were more than 600 comments on the fox head picture, and Mr Lowery said some said they would would throw acid in his face and they wished he had cancer.

His lawyer, Lewis Perry, told the judge and magistrates: "This has been a witch-hunt and it should not prevent him from taking part in an activity that he enjoys."

The tribunal refused the appeal and Judge Bourne-Arton said police were right to revoke Mr Lowery’s shotgun, firearms and explosives licences earlier this year.

He described as "the height of irresponsible conduct" Mr Lowery’s telling police his gun was "the ultimate deterrent" during his dispute with his tenant.

The judge ruled that the picture of the decapitated fox was posted in January to give the impression he had killed the animal whether he had or not.

"It was suggested by Mr Perry to the officer that Mr Lowery could not have expected the degree and extent of the reaction, but he did nothing to dispel it.

"Indeed, he made things worse by subsequent postings," said Judge Bourne-Arton. "That is not Mr Lowery acting in anything like a responsible fashion."

Outside of court, Mr Lowery, who was ordered to pay costs of £2,500, said he was disappointed, and said: "I would appeal again if I had any money."
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At the time of the furore, Mr Lowery admitted the image of the fox head was "grotesque" but added: "Yes, it was a living thing but would there have been such an uproar if it had been a rat’s head on a pencil?"

Today, he claimed it was no different to the kind of pictures he regularly put on social media sites such as a row of pheasants he has killed, lying next to his gun.
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Saboteurs warn of plan to disrupt annual Alston hare hunting week

Monday 19th October 2015

HUNT saboteurs have warned they are heading to Alston to disrupt what they allege is a secret hare hunting event.

The national Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) says it is sending members to the town to force the abandonment of Alston Hare Week.

The festival has taken place for more than 30 years, although with the introduction of the Hunting Act a decade ago, hare coursing was made illegal, with potential fines of up to £5,000.

Last year’s gathering was abandoned early after anti-hunt demonstrators protested and then claimed victory in stopping the “slaughter” of hares.

But the organisers of the week, a beagle group from the North East, deny hare coursing goes on and say it is simply a social gathering for similar groups.

A spokesman declined to say if this year’s event — which has been rumoured to start today and finish next Saturday — will even take place this year.

“At the moment, I wouldn’t say one way or another if it is going ahead,” said the spokesman.

For months, the hunt saboteurs have been arranging a “mass mobilisation” of activists in Alston.

Accommodation and transport costs are being met by a donation from the Hare Preservation Trust and through a separate on-line fund-raising drive which has generated more than £1,000 in donations.

In a poster uploaded on to a Berkshire anti-hunt group’s Facebook page, which the HSA said on Twitter had been sent to “every home in Alston”, the event was called “Alston’s dirty secret”.

It claimed: “The hunters behind Alston Hare Week rely on absolute secrecy. For our 2015 campaign to be a success, we need Alston residents to once again be eyes and ears on the ground. We need to know exactly when and where the hunts will take place.”

It added: “The whole of Alston has been leafleted advising them about the festival taking place and asking people to get in touch.

“The peace of the hills is disturbed every October by a gang of hare-hunters. This event involves packs of visiting beagle hounds being taken on to the moor to hunt down and kill hares. Twenty-eight Alston hares were rumoured to have been killed — purely for ‘sport’ — at the 2013 event.”

On Sunday, a hunt saboteurs’ group serving the south coast posted a photograph on social media of walkie-talkies and a hand-held video camera against the backdrop of a saboteur flag. It said its members were “preparing for Alston”.

The Hare Preservation Trust says the brown hare is a threatened and endangered species with numbers having declined by more than 80 per cent. over the last 100 years. It says they may even be extinct in places like the south west.

This week, the Weardale and Tees Valley Beagles, which organises the meet-up, denied hare-coursing goes on and said it was a social gathering for packs held to keep alive dying countryside traditions, including hunting songs.

The spokesman said: “The hunt saboteurs came up last year to disrupt it and the only thing it has done is cause a terrible impact on the economy of Alston.

“People came from all over the country to stay there — the hotels and B&Bs were all full.

“The Hunt Saboteurs Association are very aggressive, they dress like terrorists, push cameras into people’s faces and what they shout is quite abusive. A lot of our supporters are well into their 70s and found their behaviour very intimidating.”

She explained the festival started around 30 years ago when hunting was legal and drew packs from all over the country to England’s highest market town.

“It was always a gathering with a strong social element rather than the focus being on hunting. There would be traditional singing and that’s what we are trying to preserve.”

Beaglers from all over the British Isles were reported to have attended the event two years ago with “two meets” a day and up to 100 people sitting down for dinners.

The pro-hunting Countryside Alliance also claimed that hunt saboteurs “marred” last year’s meeting, accusing members of “abuse, threatening behaviour and intimidation”.

However, the Hunt Saboteurs Association claims its members only ever use “non-violent direct action”.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said he was “not aware” of “any beagling festival taking place”.

“There is no suggestion that packs are breaking the law in Cumbria, or other parts of England and Wales, and statistics from the Ministry of Justice back this up,” he said.

The alliance says just 24 people involved with registered hunts have been convicted of Hunting Act offences.

Mr. Bonner said this is “minute” compared to more than 300 registered hunts in England and Wales.

“The biggest effect of the HSA was on local businesses and individuals who can little afford to lose business,” said Mr. Bonner. Some hunt saboteur groups, however, say their members are booked into local hotels.

Cumbria police had a presence at last year’s event but told the Herald that organisers had declined to tell them if the event was happening this year.

A spokesman said officers were satisfied that it was not taking place on the Cumbria side of the border with Northumberland. Demonstrators allege that it is purposely held where police jurisdiction starts to become hazy and resources are thin on the ground.

In terms of wildlife crime in Cumbria during 2014-15, a recent report before Cumbria’s police and crime commissioner showed that police received 39 complaints about illegal fox hunting, 54 about deer poaching and a “large number” of complaints alleging assaults and public order offences between fox hunting groups and saboteurs.

Hare coursing is believed to have formally originated in Norfolk around 239 years ago with supporters saying it grew into a popular sport. Its major trophy was the Waterloo Cup — an event which ran until the Hunting Act became effective in 2005.

Some in the countryside still regard hares as agricultural pests and, prior to the act, they could be killed by landowners or farming tenants seeking to protect crops.
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Another hunt conviction is overturned

A hunt employee has won his appeal against a conviction brought with evidence from the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS).

Lee Martin, from the Middleton hunt, had been found guilty of interfering with a badger sett by Scarborough Magistrates on 10 February.

Today (15 October) Martin at York Crown Court was exonerated of the charge.

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Man goes on trial accused of keeping dogs to kill badgers, foxes and other animals

1 Oct 2015
By Paul Britton

James Wilde, 27, from Clifton, Salford, denies the charges of keeping terriers for use in connection with fighting and causing suffering to dogs

A man has gone on trial accused of keeping a pack of dogs to fight foxes, badgers and other wildlife.

Police discovered nine adult terriers and two puppies kept in purpose-built kennels in the yard of James Wilde’s home in Clifton, Salford. A third terrier puppy was found in a training cage in the kitchen.

Mr Wilde, 27, of Rake Lane, denies a charge of keeping terriers for use in connection with fighting and of causing unnecessary suffering to one of the dogs by failing to obtain proper veterinary attention.

Officers made the discovery and seized the dogs after a search warrant was executed at the property under the Misuse of Drugs Act for cannabis on May 1 last year, Manchester and Salford magistrates court heard.

Carmel Wilde, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said some of the dogs were found with ‘historical’ facial injuries and evidence of severe scarring. Four had sections of their lower lips and teeth missing, and other injuries which vets found consistent with ‘badger baiting’.

The court heard a ‘DIY vet’s station’, veterinary tablets, medication and bandages were recovered from a drawer inside a shed in the yard.

A pair of binoculars, muzzles, leads, ground stakes and a head torch were also found in the shed, alongside a ‘dog treadmill’, spades, shovels and camouflage clothing, a district judge hearing the trial was told.

RSPCA inspector Kat Thorburn said literature about ‘working terriers’ and ‘hunting with dogs’ was also seized from the house, alongside a series of photographs.

One photo showed a dog with its mouth around a fox and another captured Mr Wilde digging a hole near a fence in woodland, the court heard. Insp Thorburn said other photographs showed Mr Wilde holding a fox, posing with a dog and a ‘bloody’ fox and holding up a fox with another man with two dogs.

Under the Hunting Act, the court heard it’s legal for a single dog to be used to ‘flush out’ foxes and other ‘vermin’ from underground in certain circumstances, but the fox or animal must be ‘dispatched’ with a gun, the court was told. Dogs aren’t permitted to kill.

Insp Thorburn said: “In my experience, these photographs would depict a group of men intentionally going out with spades and dogs to kill wildlife.”

Ms Wilde added: “The Prosecution say that the picture is clear given the nature of the dogs. We say that situation is more than obvious and you can be sure that the dogs were kept for fighting.”

Nigel Weller, defending Mr Wilde, claimed the RSPCA were at the house unlawfully and the photographs couldn’t prove whether it was lawful or unlawful, under the Hunting Act. The court heard just one of the dogs needed treatment after they were all seized.

The case, in front of District Judge Mark Hadfield, is proceeding and Mr Wilde, who denies all the charges, is expected to give his evidence tomorrow, Friday.


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‘Badger baiting’ claims: Five men go on trial

Five men have gone on trial in connection with alleged badger baiting offences over three years ago.

The men face a number of animal cruelty charges over an alleged incident near Carrowdore, County Down, in 2012.

A security expert told the court in Craigavon he was asked to observe the site over claims people were "acting suspiciously around badger sets and interfering with them".

Three of the defendants claim they were engaged in fox-hunting.

The men who have gone on trial are: Darren Millar, 42, of Rainey Way, Belfast, Chris Kirkwood, 24, and Ryan Kirkwood, 23, from Island Street in the city, Graham Arthur Officer, 44 , from Rosepark, Donaghadee, and John Alex Edward Francis Edens, 24, from Strandburn Drive in Belfast.

A badger expert from Scotland gave evidence, via video link, about inspecting a badger set near Carrowdore on the Ards peninsula in 2012.

Medical reasons

Ian Hutchinson, a retired police officer, broke down when challenged by a defence lawyer about not appearing in court in person due to medical reasons.

The defence lawyer asked why Mr Hutchinson had travelled to Dublin to give a speech at a conference but could not appear in court.

Mr Hutchinson broke down momentarily as he told the court that he found it "incredibly stressful to be here".

Andrew Mawhinney, the security expert, said the company he worked for was asked to observe the site near Carrowdore over allegations that people were "acting suspiciously around badger sets and interfering with them".

He told the court his company used a multirotor helicopter to film a group of men on the farmland.

He said his staff observed men, with dogs, excavating ground.

Mr Mawhinney told the court that he believed their actions were linked to badger baiting.

He said the men "ran off" when they heard the noise of the drone overhead.

A defence lawyer challenged the witness about his knowledge of badger baiting and said three of the defendants claim they were engaged in fox-hunting.

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Owner failed to treat dog after forcing it to confront badger

Carmarthen Journal | September 16, 2015

The dog suffered injuries to its nose after being sent down a badger set

A FARM worker has avoided prison after admitting that he failed to seek treatment for his dog after forcing it to confront a badger near Llandysul.

Carwyn Jenkins, aged 23, of Rhydygwyn in Llanfarian, appeared before a district judge at Aberystwyth Justice Centre on Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering by failing to obtain veterinary care, and interfering with a badger sett.

The court heard how a dog was found with an injured nose and jaw when a warrant was executed at Jenkins’s home address.

The terrier was described as having half its nose missing, and officers could see directly into its nasal cavity. The injuries were believed to have been caused days earlier by fighting with wild animals, and enquiries found that local vets had not been contacted.

An image found on Jenkins’s mobile showed a terrier next to a hole with a badger visible. The picture also gave the location where it was taken on private land in Rhydowen, and evidence of human interference and digging was found when officers examined the site.

Richard Garner, defending, said: "My client is a young man caught up in something that was a foolish thing to do, particularly given his employment with animals."

He presented the court with references stating Jenkins was caring towards animals.

The case was originally listed for a trial before Jenkins’s guilty pleas, and the court heard that the investigation, legal costs and boarding charges amounted to £12,617.11.

District judge Richard Williams said the offences justified a custodial sentence, but it would be "very short" and unpaid work would enable Jenkins to put something back into the community.

He said: "The reason you did not have the dog treated was because a vet would have realised what was going on. So it was deliberate.

"The disturbance of the badger set is something that is clear to me, which you set about for the purpose of what some people refer to as sport."

He added: "The fact that you photographed what was going on suggests you took a certain degree of pleasure in it."

Jenkins was sentenced to 240 hours unpaid work, and ordered to pay a £60 court surcharge. He was disqualified from keeping dogs for five years, and ordered to pay £4,000 towards the RSPCA costs.

RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: "The dog involved in this incident suffered terrible facial injuries. Luckily he has recovered and is now available for rehoming, but for other dogs used in this way, it sadly can be very different.

"I hope this case is a warning for people who insist on putting dogs on badgers for sport that we will catch up with them. It is heartbreaking that these dogs are put on these animals and are being ripped apart."
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Cottesmore Hunt employee pleads guilty to badger sett offence

17 September 2015

Rutland’s Cottesmore Hunt employee Dean Jones, has pleaded guilty to unlawfully obstructing a badger sett.

In July this year, Mr Jones was charged with an offence of Interfering with a Badger Sett contrary to the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, following evidence submitted to the police by the League Against Cruel Sports.

Mr Jones, described on Cottesmore Hunt’s website as its ‘countryman’ (or terrierman), was charged with stopping up entrances to a badger sett near Sauvey Castle, Withcote, Leicestershire. The offence took place on the morning of Saturday 29th November 2014, only a few hours before the Cottesmore Hunt set off from a meet nearby.

Before hunting was banned ten years ago, it was legal to block up badger setts to prevent chased foxes from escaping underground. But with the introduction of the Hunting Act in 2004, amendments were made to the Protection of Badger Act 1992 to outlaw the practice. Badger setts are now protected by law and it is a criminal offence to obstruct access to, or any entrance of, a badger sett.

Since it is also now illegal for a fox to be hunted down by hounds, there should be no need to block up badger setts anyway.

Tom Quinn, Campaigns Director for League Against Cruel Sports said: “It is hard to understand why this Cottesmore Hunt employee would be required to block up a badger sett just before the hunt set off, given that it is illegal for hunts to chase foxes.

“Sett-blocking by terriermen is one of the lesser-known but still very nasty aspects of hunting, involving cruelty not only to foxes but also badgers and working dogs. This prosecution demonstrates that it’s not only those that wear red coats that break the law, but hunt employees right across the spectrum.

“We’re pleased that justice has been done, thanks to the commitment of the Leicestershire Police, the CPS’s specialist wildlife crime prosecutor and our own League investigators.”

Dean Jones has been fined £250 for the offence. He must also pay £400 costs and a £25 victim surcharge.



  • Video footage taken by the League Against Cruel Sports which was used as evidence in the prosecution is available here:
  • This is not the first case where a hunt employee has been convicted of blocking up a badger sett.
    In the case of R – v – Hopkins & Allen (2011), the judge said: “Stopping up of badger setts is capable of being evidence…of a decision having been taken in advance to hunt live foxes.”

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