Andrew Mullen, 37, of Uddingston South Lanarkshire, who organised illegal badger-baiting dog fights has been banned from keeping animals for life. Mullen, who admitted keeping five counts of dogs for the purposes of animal fighting. He was arrested following an inquiry by the Scottish SPCA’s Special Investigation Unit. They tipped off police about his activities, and he was caught with 340 photographs on a laptop showing dogs fighting with wild animals. Photographs stored also showed him and other associates digging up badger setts and causing terriers and lurchers to fight with foxes and deer. Vets found Mullen’s elderly lurcher with multiple scars over his face, muzzle, cheeks and legs. The dog was also missing a number of teeth and had scarring on his gums as well as deformation of his tongue. A second lurcher had white flecks of hair on one side of his face as a result of multiple puncture wounds, and an elderly terrier had scars to her lower jaw and tearing to her ears and body – marks that are consistent with wounds left by badger baiting.
Mullen denied actively using his dogs for blood sports, but accepted he allowed others to use them and knew the dogs he kept were to be used on badgers. He received the ban when he appeared at Lanark Sheriff Court on 1/3/12. The sheriff also imposed a six-month curfew and ordered Mullen to carry out 200 hours’ community service.
A wildlife expert told a judge that a burrow where two huntsmen were allegedly seen digging out a fox was a badger sett. Ivan Lakin said there were signs of badgers living in a system of tunnels where hunt observers filmed a terrierman digging during a foxhunt. Huntsman Andrew Bellamy is accused of interfering with the badger sett, but he insists he is not the man on the film and no badgers were living in the burrow. Bellamy, 40, of The Kennels, Sampford Spiney, near Yelverton, is appealing against his conviction by South Devon magistrates in 2011 for two offences of interfering with a badger sett. The appeal was adjourned at Exeter Crown Court on 6/3/12 and will resume in April. The prosecution say he is a terrierman who was riding a quadbike and following the South Devon hunt during one of their meets. They allege he put a terrier into a badger sett to flush out a fox that had gone to ground and he and another unidentified man then dug it out. The two men were filmed secretly by observers from the League Against Cruel Sports as they pulled out the terrier, apparently shot a fox, then filled in the holes they had dug. Ivan Lakin, a wildlife investigator for Natural England, told the court he inspected the site where the men were filmed and found an active badger sett with 24 entrances, seven of which were very active. He said: “The remains of the tunnels I saw were a badger sett because of their shape and size.”
Police caught two men hare coursing after they were seen hunting illegally on a farmer’s field. Colin Morrell (51) of Bishop Road, Stoke-on-Trent and Simon Jones (30) of Recorder Grove, Stoke-on-Trent admitted breaking the 2004 Hunting Act when they appeared at Loughborough magistrates on 4/1/12. The court heard how a local farmer watched them through binoculars, he watched two dogs which appeared to be lurcher or greyhound types hunting or chasing and one appeared to have caught a mammal, the other was circling it. Morrell, admitted hare-coursing and told officers that he had left two hares under a hedge. Morrell told the court: “This is something I’ve done all my life, like my father and his father before him. Someone needs to get a hold of this and take it by the reins. A new law came in, in 2004, which I don’t understand. I can’t believe what’s gone on over something as trivial. Morrell was fined £65 and ordered to pay £40 in costs and a victim surcharge. Jones was given a conditional discharge for six months and told to pay £20 costs. Speaking after the case Morrell said: I’ve done it all my life. I don’t know any other. My dad used to breed lurchers and greyhounds. They won’t stop me doing this till the day I die.
A gamekeeper who poisoned four buzzards has been ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service. David Whitefield, 45, admitted poisoning the birds with chloralose baits at Coulter Allers Farm, Biggar. On 5/1/12 Lanark Sheriff Court heard how he was caught after Scottish SPCA officers and police searched the farm. The court previously heard how Whitefield was the only gamekeeper employed at the farm. Scottish SPCA officers and police searched the land and buildings at the farm and Whitefield showed them the carcasses of four buzzards in varying states of decomposition. He said he had sprinkled poison on the baits to reduce the number of buzzards over the previous six months. A coffee jar and a bucket containing poison were found inside an unlocked shed in the grounds of the keeper’s cottage where Whitefield stayed. After he was sacked and evicted from his tied cottage, however, Whitefield said he had been asked to reduce the number of buzzards in any way he saw fit, although he had not been specifically told to kill them. He later pleaded guilty to a contravention of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The conviction is Whitefield’s second for wildlife offences. In October 2008, Whitefield was fined £300 after pleading guilty to trapping a buzzard for at least 48 hours, and failing to meet its needs whilst it was in the trap.
An investigation into the suspected poisoning and shooting of red kites led to the discovery of breaches of regulations dealing with pesticides and firearms at a farm. But it was accepted at Preston Crown Court on 6/1/12 there was no evidence that Allan Armistead, 74, was in any way connected with the deaths of the birds. Armistead, who lives at Hulleter Farm in Oxen Park, Ulverston, was fined £7,000 and ordered to carry out 140 hours’ unpaid work. He admitted seven offences in relation to pesticides, plus three other firearm-related offences. The court heard a search warrant was executed at the farm where chemicals were found, most of which were unlawful to possess, due to regulations which had come in more than 10 years ago. Some of the pesticides were 60 years old. Two rusting tins had a chemical capable of producing cyanide gas on contact with air or water. When one of them was open in safe lab conditions, some of that gas had already been produced. Other pesticides were also found. Among them was a bag containing bottles of crystallised hydrochloride strychnine. There was also a bottle of strychnine hydrochloride – a highly toxic poison used for controlling moles. Armistead was also told to pay a total of £2,300 costs, plus a £15 surcharge.
A huntsman has pleaded not guilty to raping a woman at a hunt ball. John Norrish, 67, and a member of the Tiverton Staghounds, denied the charge during a brief hearing at Exeter Crown Court on 10/1/12. Norrish, of Mouseberry Farm, East Worlington, is accused of raping a woman at the event in the Crediton area. The judge adjourned the case for a trial which has already been fixed for 14/5/12.
Two men who caused a fight between two dogs and a snared fox have been given suspended prison sentences. Gamekeeper Chris Carter, 49, and his work experience apprentice Luke Byrne, 19, who filmed the fight and two others on his mobile phone, were not banned from keeping dogs. Carter, of Westacre Estate, Gayton Thorpe, was sentenced to three months in prison, reduced to eight weeks for his early guilty plea, suspended for 12 months, 150 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,000 costs, at West Norfolk magistrates on 11/1/12. He had previously admitted one count of causing an animal fight, at Gayton Thorpe, in July 2009. Byrne, of Mill Houses, Lynn, was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for 12 months, 150 hours unpaid work and £500 costs. He had previously admitted causing fights between a rat and a terrier in June 2009, two dogs and a fox in July 2009 and a dog and a fox in June 2010. He had also admitted possession of three dead wild birds – a heron in November 2010, a cormorant in February 2011 and a buzzard in May 2011. The offences came to light after Byrne sold a mobile phone over the internet containing footage of some of the fights and the woman who bought it contacted the RSPCA.
At Lanark Sheriff Court on 12/1/12 Cyril McLachlan, 63, was fined £635 after admitting to the possession of Carbofuran, a toxic pesticide banned in 2001. The gamekeeper, with 40 years experience, was arrested during an operation by Strathclyde Police, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Scottish Government in January 2011, when a plastic bottle containing the illegal substance was discovered in his vehicle. McLachlan claimed to have got the chemical “off a friend”. Police were first alerted to the area in November 2010 when a member of the public reported finding a dead buzzard whilst walking near Loanhead Farm, Lamington in South Lanarkshire.
A gamekeeper found guilty of trying to illegally trap birds of prey to protect grouse has had his appeal against conviction dismissed. Glenn Brown, who was convicted by North Derbyshire magistrates of catching a sparrow hawk and four counts of causing unnecessary suffering to other birds in June 2011, had his appeal dismissed at Derby Crown Court on 24/1/12. The court heard that the 39-year-old was employed by a National Trust tenant in the Upper Derwent Valley and operated a cage trap on various dates. Brown, of Derwent Valley, was convicted of seven offences under the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981, relating to the cage trap. The court ordered Brown to pay a further £7,000 costs.
A man was been given an Anti-Social Behaviour Order and a driving ban after being caught hare coursing in Fenland. Daniel Bibby, 59, and eight other men were arrested after police were called to Ibberson’s Drove, Benwick. Bibby, of Schole Road, Willingham, was summonsed to appear in court where he pleaded not guilty to hare coursing. He was found guilty in December, following a trial, and was sentenced at Huntingdon magistrates on 26/1/12. He was banned from driving for six months, fined £150, ordered to pay £200 court costs and a victim charge of £15, and given a two-year ASBO. Bibby’s son William, 31, also of Schole Road, Willingham, and six other men and a 16-year-old boy were also found guilty of hare coursing offences. William Bibby was fined £200 and ordered to pay £200 court costs and a £15 victim charge.
A gamekeeper caught using a live pigeon to lure other birds into his sights has failed in a bid to keep his gamekeeper licence and his job. Craig Barrie used a live pigeon as a decoy to attract other birds on Aswanley Estate in Aberdeenshire. The 30-year-old was fined £520 after he admitted the breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. He appealed the sentence, arguing that unless he was admonished or granted an absolute discharge he would lose his gamekeeper licence and be left unable to work. Two appeal court judges have rejected the argument on 1/2/12. Barrie, of Glass, Huntly, has resigned from his job at the estate between Huntly and Dufftown but the post had been kept open for him in case the appeal was successful.
A gamekeeper sparked a major health scare and forced the closure of part of a city after claiming he ate cyanide in a bid to die “in a blaze of glory”. A housing estate was cordoned off for several hours over fears that the cyanide Graeme Thompson, 29, said he swallowed could kill hundreds of residents living nearby. Dozens of emergency service workers cut off an area around Thompson’s Perth home because of the ultra-lethal nature of the poison involved. The operation to isolate the gamekeeper involved six police vehicles, 14 police officers, eight ambulances, seven paramedics and seven specialist medics. Thompson, of Primrose Crescent, Perth, admitted depriving the public of emergency service workers by making false claims he swallowed razor blades and cyanide. He also admitted blocking the streets as a consequence. Thompson stated this was to kill himself when the razor blades burst the bag in his stomach so the poison entered his system. He gave the officers a suicide note and said he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. Thompson and the officers were eventually transported to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee under an escort and they were taken to the decontamination unit for tests. On 2/2/12 Thompson was remanded in custody pending sentence and the case was continued for the preparation of social work reports.
A man accused of shooting a buzzard will stand trial at the Isle of Wight magistrates. On 23/2/12 John Winn Roberts, 43, of Woodend Meadow, Ballymagorry, Strabane, Northern Ireland, denied injuring a wild bird at a quarry on St George’s Down, Newport. Magistrates adjourned the case until 24/4/12 and extended his bail until that date.
A gun fanatic who shot a cat and then clubbed it to death has been spared immediate jail for possessing illegal firearms. Clive Price had a gun disguised as a walking stick – described by the judge as “an assassin’s weapon” – among his prohibited firearms. It was found along with a handmade pistol and a silencer during police investigations in to the shooting of the cat, Stafford crown court heard on 27/2/12. Price shot the animal out of a hawthorn tree using an illicit air rifle – because it had been attacking some nesting birds. He fired the air rifle because he was angry with the cat and having severely injured it, he went and picked it up and killed it either by clubbing it or swinging it against a wall. Price, aged 55, of Exeter Street, Stafford who admitted four firearms offences, was sentenced to 52 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to do 300 hours unpaid community work for the firearms offences. Price also admitted the summary offence of causing unnecessary suffering to the cat and was given 18 weeks jail, also suspended for two years.
A Fife pensioner who killed the Scottish Parliament’s falcon “guard” has been ordered by a sheriff to pay the cost of training a new one. Andrew Hutchison, 67, a pigeon fancier, was found guilty of killing the bird with an air rifle. He was fined £350, and ordered to pay £1,500 compensation to Naph’s owners, NBC Bird and Pest Solutions. The falcon was one of 25 birds of prey used to keep pigeons away from the Holyrood parliament building. Hutchison, of Newmills, Fife, was found guilty on 7/3/12 of maliciously shooting and killing a working falcon.
On 9/3/12 three travellers were fined after admitting hare coursing at a farm in Mortimer. Thomas Small, 21, Michael Connors, 23, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named, all from the Paices Hill traveller site near Aldermaston. The three appeared at Slough magistrates to admit hunting a wild mammal with dogs and participating in a hare coursing event. Small and Connors were fined £50 each, ordered to pay £30 each in costs and will both pay a £15 victim surcharge. The 17-year-old was fined £50, and told to pay £25 in costs and a £15 surcharge.
Dogfighting and Pit Bulls
Two Chesham men were jailed and given a lifetime ban from keeping animals after admitting a series of offences related to illegal dog fighting. Javed Jahangir, 28, and Sajid Mahmood, 29, were both sent to prision for 20 weeks at Reading magistrates on 2/3/12. A raid on Jahangir’s home in Milton Road led to officers finding a pit bull terrier type dog and a computer containing footage showing the two men fighting dogs in fields thought to be close to their homes. Mahmood of Batchelors Way, was identified from the footage and this led to the RSPCA searching further properties in Chesham that he had links to. There, officers found another pit bull terrier type dog, muzzles, leads, computers, phones, cameras and media storage devices – all of which were seized. Jahangir admitted four offences linked to animal fighting and one of having an illegal dog at an earlier hearing, while Mahmood pleaded guilty to three fighting-related charges and to having an illegal dog. As well as being jailed, both men were barred from keeping animals for life. Jahangir was ordered to pay £5,000 in prosecution costs and Mahmood £1,500.
Three other men have been brought to justice as part of the above operation, while a fourth is currently awaiting sentence, after they were all identified in the footage seized during the warrants. On 28/11/11 Mohammed Butt from Chesham was sentenced to 72 weeks in prison after pleading guilty to several dog fighting offences. Butt, 23, of Benham Close, Chesham, pleaded guilty to three counts of causing an animal fight and one count of keeping an animal for fighting. He was sentenced to 18 weeks for each of the four charges to run consecutively. On 12/12/11 Azhar Hussain, 28, of Amersham Hill, High Wycombe was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison and banned from keeping all animals for 10 years after he pleaded guilty to causing a dog fight. On 23/1/12 Daniel Bignell, 31, of Cresswell Road, Chesham was banned from keeping all animals for 10 years and given a 12-month community order, including 150 hours unpaid work, after he pleaded guilty to being present at a dog fight. Safraz Hussain, 44, of Shelley Road, Chesham also admitted being present at a dog fight. He will be sentenced at a hearing due to take place at Aylesbury magistrates on 12/3/12.
On 10/2/12 a Bedfordshire man was jailed for eight months after pleading guilty to 13 offences involving the illegal trade of endangered wildlife. Greg Turner, 32, of St Peter’s Court, Astwood Close, Potton, appeared at Luton Crown Court after stuffed birds of prey were found at his home. The birds included a Red Kite, Marsh Harrier and Peregrine Falcon. Turner also admitted selling a Goshawk, a Kestrel, five Barn Owls, three Tawny Owls, a Little Owl and a Hawk Owl. Turner pleaded guilty to 12 charges of selling endangered species and one charge of having items in his possession for use in connection with fraud.
On 24/2/12 a serial egg thief from east London became the first person in England to receive an ASBO for crimes against nature. Matthew Gonshaw, of Cherrywood Close, was handed the order because of the damage he has wreaked on rare birds by stealing their eggs. Gonshaw was jailed for six months last December 2011 after he admitted stealing hundreds of rare birds’ eggs, including those of golden eagles, this is his fourth prison sentence for egg collecting. For the next ten years, the maximum ASBO term, he will be banned from travelling to Scotland during the breeding season (Feb 1 to August 31) because of his repeated previous trips to take eggs of species such as golden eagles and ospreys. He is also prevented from visiting all RSPB and Wildlife Trust land for the next ten years. Gonshaw is currently serving his fourth prison sentence for egg collecting.
A farmer was ordered to pay a total of £3,215 for illegally trapping wild birds on his land. Ivan Crane (53), of East Langton, was sentenced at Leicester magistrates on 2/3/12 after being found guilty of three offences relating to trapping birds without an appropriate licence. Crane, who breeds pheasants for shooting, said he laid traps to prevent crows and magpies from attacking young birds. Crane was also convicted in April 2011, of illegally using spring-loaded rat traps to stop birds of prey eating his young pheasants. Magistrates fined him £2,500 and he was ordered to pay costs.
Seventeen skippers who operated an industrial scale fishing fraud have been fined £720,000 in total. Seventeen Scottish skippers and a processing firm have received fines totalling almost £1m for their part in the UK’s biggest fraud involving illegal catches of fish. The men had admitted they were able to sell vast quantities of mackerel and herring by evading EU quotas. Three firms, one in Shetland and two in Peterhead, were involved in the black fish fraud, worth almost £63m. During hearings at the High Court in Glasgow in February 2012, six more skippers also admitted their part in the illegal fish landing. Stephen Bellamy, 49, from Fraserburgh, John Smith, 36, and James Smith 54, both from Peterhead, Ernest Simpson, 64, Allan Simpson, 42, both from Fraserburgh and Oswald McRonald, 63, from Banff, are due to be sentenced in May, along with four others. Seventeen men who had previously admitted to being involved in the scam were fined a total of £720,000. One of the processing companies, Alexander Buchan Limited, which operated a factory in the Aberdeenshire fishing town of Peterhead, was fined £240,000. A second Peterhead processing plant, Fresh Catch, admitted landing £10.5m of illegal fish. Shetland Catch has already pleaded guilty to landing £47.5m of black fish. Both companies have still to be sentenced. The 17 fishermen sentenced illegally landed mackerel and herring at the Shetland Catch factory in Lerwick over a three year period. They offloaded thousands of tonnes of fish, much more than they were allowed under European rules to protect stocks. The court has heard how logbooks were falsified and digital weighing scales at the factory were rigged to underestimate the weight of the fish being landed. Hamish Slater, 53, and Alexander Masson, 66, both from Fraserburgh, were fined £80,000 and £50,000 respectively, while Alexander Wiseman, 60, from Banff, was also fined £50,000. Another 13 men from Shetland were fined for their role in the scam. Robert Polson, 48, was fined £70,000; John Irvine, 68, was fined £80,000; William Williamson, 65, was fined £45,000; Laurence Irvine, 66, was fined £80,000; and both David Hutchison, 66, and 56-year-old Thomas Eunson were fined £40,000. Allister Irvine, 63, and Gary Williamson, 52, were both fined £35,000; John Stewart, 57, was ordered to pay £15,000; and both George Henry, 60, and George Anderson, 56, must pay £12,000. Colin Leask, 39, and Allen Anderson, 55, were each fined £3,000. A £70,000 fine was imposed on Victor Buchini, 51, from Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire. The seventeen men have already been forced to pay back almost £3m in profits they made from the scam.