Evidence of experts at odds in badger trial

The credibility of a huntsman who was presented as an expert witness at the trial of a terrier man accused of digging out a badger sett was questioned in court yesterday.

Defendant Andrew Bellamy, 39, of Sampford Spiney, has denied two charges of damaging and interfering with a sett at near Beacon Farm, Bridford last year while laying a trail for the South Devon Hunt.

Mr Bellamy disputes he was captured on film by the League against Cruel Sports (LACS) on April 7 despite being picked out of an identity parade by two of its members.

Under the Protection of Badgers Act, 1992, it is only an offence to dig into a tunnel if the sett shows current signs of activity. Yesterday South Devon Magistrates’ Court heard evidence from two experts on the level of activity at the sett and the degree and effect of alleged interference.

The prosecution called Ivan Lakin, a wildlife investigator for Natural England, who had found 24 entrances, seven of which were “very active”.

He said it was “a large active main sett, important to the local social badger group” and used for breeding.

But when Stephen Lomax, member of the pro-hunt group Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management – formerly known as Vets for Hunting – took the stand, the prosecution launched an attack on his motives.

During cross examination, Kerry Barker QC, prosecuting, told Mr Lomax, a non-practicing barrister, that he had prepared a report more suited to a defence aid than an expert witness.

Mr Lomax who admitted hunting since he was a boy, claimed the case could not be proved because there was no evidence of current use at the sett.

He strenuously denied any bias

Mr Bellamy is set to give evidence today.



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