Andrew Bellamy, 39, disputed being filmed by the League Against Cruel Sports arriving at a badger sett at Beacon Farm on a quad bike on and apparently digging a terrier from the ground
A terrier man has been convicted of breaking wildlife protection laws after secretly-filmed footage by anti-hunt campaigners showed him and another man digging out a badger sett.
Andrew John Bellamy, of Yelverton, Devon, denied two charges of damaging and interfering with a badger sett at Bridford, on Dartmoor, last year while laying a trail for the South Devon Foxhounds.
Bellamy, 39, disputed being filmed by the League Against Cruel Sports arriving at the sett at Beacon Farm on a quad bike on April 7 and apparently digging a terrier from the ground. He was yesterday found guilty by South Devon Magistrates of both offences under the Protection of Badgers Act, fined £500 and ordered to pay £500 costs plus £15 victims surcharge.
In sentencing, Richard Blanchard, chairman of the bench, described evidence by Bellamy, and members of the hunt who acted as witnesses, as “reasonably weak” and containing “contradictions”.
“We believe you were the man number two in the film,” Mr Blanchard concluded. “You said you were on the quad with a hunt follower then contradicted that evidence.”
The conviction came after League members mounted a clandestine operation using video cameras, binoculars and hand-held GPS trackers.
Edmund Shephard and Paul Tillsley secretly trailed the South Devon hunt.
They alerted police – handing over the video footage – launched their own internet investigation into the men pictured on film and both picked out Bellamy at an identity parade.
League chief executive Douglas Batchelor said the verdict highlighted the “important work our investigators do out in the field” and vowed to continue its monitoring activities.
He added: “Unfortunately there are a number of people who think they can abuse wild animals undetected but, as today has proved, this is not the case.
“Whether it’s the Badgers Act, the Hunting Act or any other wildlife legislation, cruelty to animals, no matter how remote the scene of the crime is, is not acceptable and we will continue to work with the police and CPS to ensure those criminals who break the law are brought to justice.”
Video evidence, showed two men, 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.
The two offences related to the digging into the sett and the placing of a large boulder to obstruct the entrance.
Magistrates heard conflicting evidence regarding whether the sett was active, the key to any successful conviction. They accepted the opinion of Ivan Lakin, a wildlife investigator for Natural England, who conducted a survey and found a “very active main sett” with 24 entrances, seven of which were “very active”.
Bellamy, of The Kennels, Sampford Spiney, was suspended from his job as a countryman since being charged.