A Staffordshire man has avoided an immediate prison sentence after being found guilty of disturbing a protected badger sett on an isolated farm in East Yorkshire.
Gary Douglas, aged 40, of Railway Cottages, Great Bridgeford, was given a 12-week suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay £2,000 costs.
District Judge Frederick Rutherford told Douglas along with 29-year-old Shaun Chapman from Doncaster and Hull resident Terry Murry, 47: “I found you approached a live sett knowing at the time it to be active.
“Your intention was to bait or kill animals by digging out the sett with the sole purpose of causing terror to a protected species.
“You had intended to cause extreme cruelty to the animals in this sett. In my mind this carries imprisonment the only question is whether I can suspend it or not.
“I will and that means you will be sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months during which time you will carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.”
All three were found guilty of a charge of interfering with a badger sett under section 3 of the Protection of Badgers’ Act 1992 following a one-day a trial at Hull Magistrates’ Court in September.
They were armed with two shovels, three terriers and an electronic dog collar locator on December 5.
The court heard the farm had a large number of badgers and a highly active sett 100 yards from where the men were digging with five-toe prints “like a badger motorway.”
In the latest hearing the men were told they were all working and could afford to pay a share of the £6,000 costs in bringing the case.
The men all claimed they were looking for a fox when it bolted down a hole. They began digging down through heavy clay soil only to be reported to the police who filmed them from Humberside Police’s force helicopter.
Farm manager William Osgerby, 37, told the earlier trial the hole where the men were digging was a badger sett not a fox hole.
Douglas had his English bull terrier with him when arrested by the police. He said he had gone to East Yorkshire on invitation having met Chapman at a Welsh game fair. He said he didn’t go anywhere without his dog. “I went out bushing to bolt a few foxes and rabbits,” said Douglas. “I didn’t dig.” Asked why not he laughed: “I’m too lazy.”