Friday 6th June 2014
THREE thugs tried to shake a ‘terrified’ cat down from a tree so it could be mauled by their snarling dogs below, a court heard.
Joshua Varey, 24, filmed the ‘barbaric’ act of cruelty on his mobile phone with Shaun Mullens, 22, and Paul Ashworth, 49, seen climbing two trees where the black cat was seeking shelter, and shaking the branches, Burnley magistrates were told.
Varey and Mullens can be heard laughing, it is alleged, and the trio are now facing a possible jail term.
In another mobile phone video, Varey and Mullens dig out a badger sett and send their dogs to attack the animal, which can be heard to scream.
All three defendants, from Colne, have pleaded guilty to what Burnley magistrates described as ‘deliberate and serious’ acts of cruelty that the defendants ‘appear to derive pleasure from’.
Paul Taylor, prosecuting, said: “This is a serious case where these defendants, for their own enjoyment, caused harm, or more probably the death, of a badger.
“They exposed their own animals to very serious danger. Their dogs bear the battle scars as evidence of previous fighting, which they admit to keeping for that purpose.”
Mullens’ dog Missy can be seen on the video of the badger being attacked. Varey has admitted to keeping his dog Franco for fighting.
Mullens, of Leach Street, and Varey, of Duke Street, both have previous convictions for using dogs to hunt rabbits.
Ashworth, of Hawley Street, has previous convictions for not using pain medication when treating two injured dogs, and another for leaving a dog without drinking water for several hours.
Ashworth’s solicitor John Rusius said: “What he says is that he came across this situation after having had a drink and wasn’t thinking clearly.
“He was asked to climb a tree to get a cat down from the tree, which he did.
“He just did what he was asked to do, he didn’t think about it, or the consequences of it.
“Mr Ashworth is quite easily led.”
Derek Taylor, chairman of the bench, said: “We feel that this is such a serious matter that we will be considering the full reach of the sentencing guidelines, including imprisonment.
“We feel it was a deliberate and serious act carried out in drink. It appears you were deriving pleasure from this barbaric act on an innocent animal.”
The hearing has been adjourned to July 11 for pre-sentence reports to be made.
The prosecution comes nearly 12 months after police and RSPCA officers carried out dawn raids at 11 homes across Pendle, during which Varey and Mullens were arrested.
Officers seized three lurchers, two terriers and a cross breed lurcher/bull terrier, computers, mobile phones, cash and drugs equipment during the swoop.
The operation in July 2013 followed a 12-month evidence gathering operation into badger digging, deer poaching, hare coursing and offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
In October last year, six cats were killed by lurchers in attacks in Glen Street and North Street, Colne, over three days.
Police said the incidents were known as ‘cat coursing’, where dogs were trained to kill domestic pets before going poaching or badger baiting
North West Hunt Saboteurs Association
Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports