A GANG of six men and a youth were found guilty of hunting and killing badgers in what was described by an RSPCA inspector as the worst case of animal cruelty he had seen in 20 years.
The men, all but one of them from York, were all found guilty of offences under the Badgers Act and Hunting Act following a two-week trial at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court.
The judge praised the bravery of wildlife artist Robert Fuller, who managed to take pictures of the men in the act, and police sergeant Paul Stephenson, who investigated the crime.
Judge Christina Harrison said Mr Fuller, had been particularly courageous in taking the photographs secretly before he was spotted by the men on land at Paradise Farm, Howsham, near Malton, last January.
Speaking after the case yesterday, Mr Fuller, said: “I am glad it has come to an end and come to a conviction.
“Badgers have been persecuted for hundreds of years. This is the first time I have seen it happening. It was a sense of disbelief that it was on a Sunday afternoon at 1pm, and next to a footpath.
“It was just a horrendous thing to see happening on the day, but there are not many better people to be placed there than me.
“I have watched badgers on hundreds of nights and I was brought up on a farm so know about shotguns, so I knew straight away what they were up to by the noises.”
Alan Alexander, 32, of Bramham Close, York, William Edward Anderson, 26, of Hillside, Cropton Lane, Pickering, Richard Simpson, 37, of Wains Road, York, Paul Ian Tindall, 33 of Bramham Grove, York, and a 17-year-old York youth, were all found guilty having pleaded not guilty to charges of wilfully killing two badgers, digging out a badger sett, interfering with a sett, and hunting a wild animal with dogs.
Two others, Christopher Martin Holmes, 28, of Bell Farm Avenue, York and Malcolm David Warner, 28, of Princess Drive, York, pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to the charges, and all seven had their cases adjourned for sentence until January 10.
Another man, James Henry Doyle, 34, of Westfield Avenue, Knottingley, was cleared of all the charges.
The court heard how the men had laughed as they watched a badger being ripped apart in a “tug of war” by dogs. They were also told of the discovery of a pregnant badger, also savaged to death, and two foetuses.
Post-mortem results concluded another badger had “suffered a severe and sustained” attack.
RSPCA Inspector Geoff Edmund said after the hearing: “It was without question the worst case I have seen in 20 years.
“It was horrific. These men went to the farm with the intention of baiting and killing the badgers with dogs. It was barbaric.”
For Sgt Paul Stephenson it was the third time he had been commended by a judge in his career and believed it was his experience in the CID and road traffic patrolling which had enabled him to pursue the case, some of it in his own time.