Two bloodthirsty relatives of Britain’s youngest police killer face jail for badger baiting
JOHN MURRAY and son John jnr got their kicks from watching their hunting dogs tear badgers, cats and foxes to bits.
TWO twisted relatives of Britain’s youngest police killer are facing jail after being convicted of badger baiting.
Bloodthirsty father and son John “Mint” Murray, 56, and his son John jnr, 33, staged the barbaric battles at the same family home where the older man’s 16-year-old brother Hugh stabbed Detective Sergeant Ross Hunt, 58, to death in 1983.
The pair got their kicks from watching their powerful hunting dogs tearing badgers, cats and other animals to pieces.
The screams of badgers being ripped apart in a garage reverberated through the estate in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, where the father and son live in adjacent former council houses.
And Murray jnr’s former partner told the pair’s trial they liked to trap cats and foxes in a wheelie bin with their dogs, which would fly into a killing frenzy.
The father and son also set cruel wire snares in the town of Larkhall and didn’t care if pets were caught in them.
The pair are said to still boast of their family’s police killer record.
As well as Hugh Murray, Mint’s married sister Margaret Smith and father Hugh snr were convicted of murdering DS Hunt.
The tragic policeman, who had served for 30 years, was only weeks from retirement when he fatefully went to the house to arrest Hugh snr for a sickening sectarian crime. The extreme loyalist had maimed a Catholic teenager by carving a flag into his back.
Hugh jnr’s teacher spoke at the time of how he would scare other children by showing them video nasties of animal cruelty and telling them how he tortured rabbits.
The teenager served 22 years behind bars, where he earned a reputation for violence. He was released on licence in 2004 but killed himself with an overdose in 2008.
Hugh snr was freed after 10 years because he had cancer and he later died, while Margaret Smith served 13 years.
Mint and his son were snared by a special investigations unit from the Scottish SPCA, who raided their home after being tipped off by a photo showing them digging a badger sett.
Officers swooped on their properties in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, and removed a number of items related to badger baiting, including dogs, shovels and metal cages used to catch animals.
Murray jnr’s former partner, Michelle Ralton, 27, told the court Mint and his son were prolific badger diggers and had been doing it for years.
She said she separated from Murray jnr because she didn’t want her children exposed to violence.
Mint kept his terriers in runs in his gardens, inbreeding them and boasting it made them vicious, by sending them “crazy in the brain”.
Mother of-two Michelle told the pair’s 10-day trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court: “There were three or four black terriers kept out the back of our house in runs.”
She said the dogs would be trained to fight and were taught to attack foxes that had been caught in cages.
She said: “These dogs were bred in that way so they would kill.
“They were not pets. They would let the pups get a taste of blood and that was part of their training. The dogs were kept for digging foxes and badgers.
“They would put the dogs down the holes until the dog got to what was in the hole. If the dog didn’t kill it, then they would.”
The pair would host boozy fight evenings with mates from other badger baiting crews from across the country and Northern Ireland.
Sheriff Douglas Brown deferred sentence on the Murrays until next month when he will also consider having the dogs seized and imposing a ban on the pair keeping dogs.
Scottish SPCA Deputy Chief Superintendent Tom Gatherer said, “We are pleased Murray snr and Murray jnr have been found guilty following our investigation.
“Badger baiting is a serious offence and the court will now decide on the appropriate sentence.”
Sadistic badger baiting fanatics keep in touch through large networks stretching across the UK and in to Ireland.
They refer to their hunters as “earth dogs” and the badgers as “pigs” or “Billy”.
A transmitter is fitted to a terrier, which is sent into the sett to corner the badger.
The baiters trace the device and dig open the sett to watch the spectacle unfold, often dragging the terrier out and replacing it with a stronger pitbull to slaughter the badger.
If it is unsuccessful, the baiters bludgeon the badger to death with a spade.
Badger baiting was once the fashionable pastime of the aristocracy but was banned in the same year as slavery, yet it remains prolific in Scotland.
A member of the SSPCA investigations unit said: “It is all about watching your dog inflicting pain and suffering. They judge a dog on how badly scarred and injured it is.”
Baiters rarely take their injured dogs to the vet because the practice is illegal.
The investigator said: “It is the most barbaric and cruel pastime and it causes extraordinary suffering to the animals.”
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