A terrier man has denied digging out a badger sett during the meeting of a Westcountry hunt despite secretly-filmed video footage shot by campaigners from nearby woods.
Andrew John Bellamy, 39, of Yelverton, pleaded not guilty to two charges that he damaged and interfered with a sett at Bridford on the north western tip of Dartmoor last year while laying a trail for the South Devon Hunt.
Mr Bellamy, 39, who lives at The Kennels, Sampford Spiney with wife Claire Bellamy, Master of Fox Hounds at the Spooners and West Dartmoor Hunt, disputes he was captured on film by the League against Cruel Sports (LACS) on April 7.
The group alerted police after a clandestine operation which tracked the South Devon hunt using two-way radios across open countryside, over muddy fields and through dense woodland.
The resulting video evidence, partly filmed through a barbed-wire fence, was screened at South Devon Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
It showed two men on a quad bike, fitted with boxes front and back, riding ahead of the hounds before stopping and furiously digging out two parts of the “extensive” sett.
Kerry Barker, prosecuting, told the court how Paul Tillsley, the League’s head of operations, and Edmund Shephard, an investigations officer for South Devon, watched the events unfold from a nearby bridleway.
Mr Barker said the film showed two men, one bald-headed the other with a distinctive “widow’s peak”, sweeping the sett with an electronic tracking device connected to the collar of a dog located underground before furiously hacking into the turf with spades.
He added: “They were seen to pull a terrier from the ground – there was then what sounded like a shot and one of the men remained in the hole.
“They had a bag but what was put in was not observed – the hole was filled in and a large rock dropped into it – the men then drove away on the quad.”
Mr Bellamy was arrested two weeks later where he admitted laying a trail but said he was unable to recognise himself in the footage.
Mr Tillsley, a former biology teacher and member of the LACS for more than 10 years, picked out Mr Bellamy at a police station after also identifying the defendant on unnamed internet photographs as part of his own investigation.
Yesterday he described how he filmed the incident on land near Clampitt House using a camcorder and GPS positioning device balanced on his lap, at about 3pm. At the same time he watched the men through powerful binoculars, claiming he could clearly see the men and read the bike’s registration number, WA07 LKJ, as it sped away.
Mr Shephard, a LACS member with 20 years experience “watching hunts”, also filmed the scene from a nearby location and later picked out Mr Bellamy from photographs shown to him by police.
Sara-Lise Howe, defending, questioned the ability of both men to identify Mr Bellamy, suggesting they had known him from previous operations and knew him from online photographs.
The trial continues today