‘Badger baiting’ claims: Five men go on trial


Five men have gone on trial in connection with alleged badger baiting offences over three years ago.

The men face a number of animal cruelty charges over an alleged incident near Carrowdore, County Down, in 2012.

A security expert told the court in Craigavon he was asked to observe the site over claims people were "acting suspiciously around badger sets and interfering with them".

Three of the defendants claim they were engaged in fox-hunting.

The men who have gone on trial are: Darren Millar, 42, of Rainey Way, Belfast, Chris Kirkwood, 24, and Ryan Kirkwood, 23, from Island Street in the city, Graham Arthur Officer, 44 , from Rosepark, Donaghadee, and John Alex Edward Francis Edens, 24, from Strandburn Drive in Belfast.

A badger expert from Scotland gave evidence, via video link, about inspecting a badger set near Carrowdore on the Ards peninsula in 2012.

Medical reasons

Ian Hutchinson, a retired police officer, broke down when challenged by a defence lawyer about not appearing in court in person due to medical reasons.

The defence lawyer asked why Mr Hutchinson had travelled to Dublin to give a speech at a conference but could not appear in court.

Mr Hutchinson broke down momentarily as he told the court that he found it "incredibly stressful to be here".

Andrew Mawhinney, the security expert, said the company he worked for was asked to observe the site near Carrowdore over allegations that people were "acting suspiciously around badger sets and interfering with them".

He told the court his company used a multirotor helicopter to film a group of men on the farmland.

He said his staff observed men, with dogs, excavating ground.

Mr Mawhinney told the court that he believed their actions were linked to badger baiting.

He said the men "ran off" when they heard the noise of the drone overhead.

A defence lawyer challenged the witness about his knowledge of badger baiting and said three of the defendants claim they were engaged in fox-hunting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-34393194

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