Vermin Patrol For Howl 63

Three follow up stories from Howl 62

1) Kevin Gustard (24) of Metcalfe Crescent, Murton, County Durham admitted three offences of interfering with a badger sett on Croxdale estate on 10/9/95. On 6/7/96 Durham Magistrates heard that Gustard was spotted by a local gamekeeper who then phoned for the police. The gamekeeper then made three return trips to the sett after Gustard had disappeared and a puppy could be still heard yapping from inside the sett. The following day Gustard and John William Norman (23) of Barnes Road, Murton, County Durham returned with the puppy’s mother, who had been fitted with a tracking device, and she was put into the sett to find the puppy. The police then swooped after being tipped off. Gustard told them he knew it was a badger sett but was trying to retrieve his puppy. He was given 120 hours community service and ordered to pay cost of £973.90. Norman, who admitted to one offence of interfering with a badger sett, was given a 2 year conditional discharge. The court was told that Norman was given a 3 month sentence for an unconnected offence by Peterlee Magistrates on 30/8/96.

2) Stuart Anthony Fellows (26) of Pond Lane, Parkfields, Wolverhampton was jailed for 4 months and banned from keeping dogs for 10 years after being found guilty of interfering with a badger sett by Oswestry Magistrates in August 1996. Fellows has had his ban from keeping dogs cut to just 3 years following an appeal at Shrewsbury Crown Court on 13/9/96.

3) A judge has thrown out appeals from three convicted cockfighters against a life ban on owning birds. Judge Richard Lowden sitting at Durham Crown Court on 11/10/96 refused the appeal of John Hawthorn (42) of Calvert Terrace, Murton, County Durham, adding “The purpose of the sentence is to discourage you from ever again participating in the obscene and degrading pastime of watching animals inflict pain on each other”. Appeals from the other two men William Ross (49) a butcher of Sharon Avenue, Kelloe, Durham City and Joseph Kelbie (34) formally of Cottingly Springs, Leeds, now of Turney Lane, Newark, Nottinghamshire were rejected formally by the judge.

On 18/1/96 Norwich magistrates heard how a gamekeeper set pole traps to catch birds of prey, David Millican (42) of Kimberley Hall Estate, Norfolk, a trainee at the estate, was told by the head gamekeeper Sidney Carter (81) to set the traps. The traps which have been illegal since 1904 were rigged to trap such birds as sparrowhawks and tawny owls as they swooped down on pheasants which were being reared in pens on the estate. The traps were set on five 10ft poles at various places on the estate and steel jaws were triggered by a spring to snap shut when the birds land on the poles. An RSPB officer commented that any birds caught in a pole trap would die a very slow and painful death as they would just be hanging there with one or two broken legs until it either died from starvation or shock. Millican, fined £1,500 (£300 for each trap) and £30 costs, later said “I have been made a scapegoat, I did not know these traps were illegal, I was just told to do it and I did”. He also told the court any fine would be paid by the landowner, Eton-educated Roland Buxton (72). Later he told reporters that he had to pack in his job and that nobody would employ him because of this case. (Shame). Sidney Carter, the head gamekeeper, was said not to be prosecuted because of his old age and ill heath – so all you old and infirm sabs get out there and kick some ass!

Neil Keith Bingham (24) of Pateley Moor Crescent, Darlington admitted to interfering with a badger sett by causing a dog to enter it at Northallerton magistrates on 30/7/96. The court heard how a local had visited the sett in January 1996 while out walking one evening and noticed a van parked nearby with cages and spades in the back. Dog noises could be heard coming from the sett and he also noticed the top had been disturbed. The police were then called. When the police arrived they saw three men walking towards a wood. Later on Bingham approached a PC at the scene and said he was looking for his dog. Michael Wilson, defending, said Bingham had been out chasing foxes (there goes that old excuse again) with some friends when his dog had got trapped down a hole. He said Bingham did not know it was a badger sett and added “It was done unwittingly and he had full co-operated with the police”. However, examination of the sett later had showed one entrance had been enlarged while two others had been blocked by lumps of concrete. A terrier that was found nearby after the incident had various wounds and scars in the nasal area. It is now in a safe RSPCA home. Bingham was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £470 costs, banned from keeping dogs for 5 years and had all his equipment, including nets and tracking devices confiscated.

A hunt supporter of the Seavington Hunt who trespassed on a railway line was caught on camera and reported to the police by a member of League Against Cruel Sports. Yeovil magistrates heard on 8/8/96 how Bernard Martin (58) of New Close, Haselbury Plucknett, Somerset was filmed walking along the track near Crewkerne with a number of others during a meet of the hunt on Boxing Day last year. In his defence Martin said “He had been led to believe that checks had been done and no trains were running on that day. He had been doing what he did that day for many years. Ignorance of the law is no excuse but no-one ever stopped him”. Martin was given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £20 costs, a charge of trespass against his son Paul Martin (32) was dismissed at the request of the prosecution.

On 14/9/96 a former student who was studying to be a gamekeeper at Newton Rigg College, Cumbria admitted illegally removing a dead deer from land without the consent of the landowner. Penrith magistrates heard that Kevin Lloyd Dean(28) of Hylton House, Long Marton, Cumbria was stopped in the early hours of 21/3/96 while in a car and a dead roe deer was found in the back of the vehicle. When the police asked where it had come from they said it was found at the side of the road. On further examination of the deer it was found to have slash marks to the throat and wounds consistent with having been bitten by a dog. The court also heard how Dean and others had been out rabbiting in the Cockermouth area when a dog with them had attacked the deer. They claimed deer had been killed with a knife to put it out of its misery and then they were taking it home for consumption. Dean, who has since left the college because of fear of recriminations, is now unemployed and was fined £150 with £50 costs. Two other defendants Paul Tony Wren (23) of South Street, Cockermouth, Cumbria and a youth from Lancashire pleaded not guilty to the incident.

Yet another hunt supporter has appeared in court – Dean John Richards (36 ) of Glebelands Villas, Bishops Nympton, Devon pleaded guilty to two charges of assault at Tiverton magistrates on 20/9/96. The court were told how two LACS sanctuary officers were monitoring the Tiverton Staghounds who had met at the Exeter Inn, near Bampton. During the day Richards had thrust himself through their car window, both the monitors inside were hit around the face and one video camera was damaged. In court, Richards claimed he had been given the task of getting between the hounds and the stag to stop them attacking it, (he must have thought their was a few stay hounds in the front of the car and was just checking). Magistrates fined Richards £50 for each assault with £69 costs and ordered him to pay £25 to each of the victims.

Mervin Brice (24) of Mill Road, Deal, Kent was ordered to do 200 hours community service and told to pay £700 vets fees after pleading guilty to unnecessary suffering to a dog    He was also banned from keeping dogs for 5 years. Dover Magistrates heard on the 16/10/96 how Brice was ‘leaned on’ by some people from south London to whom he owed money. The court was told how a Jack Russell terrier called Rocky was entered into a sett that contained a male and female badger in March 1996 at an un-named location. A savage fight then broke out in which Rocky suffered serious injuries to his jaw that later became infected. In a statement to the RSPCA by Brice, (who is experienced in the use of working dogs and fox control methods) said “Rocky took a bit of punishment off the sow but most came off the boar, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t take him to the vets. I agree I should have treated him”. Brice also said he did not believe in badger digging although he admitted being present while one took place. The only good news is that Rocky is now with a new owner.

On 25/10/96 John Mitchell (56) of Outlands Lane, Curdridge, Hampshire was found guilty of careless driving by New Forest magistrates. The court was told how Mitchell, who is the amateur whipper-in with the New Forest Foxhounds had sandwiched a hunt sab from Southampton between a van and a Land Rover. The incident happened in September 1996 when a sab was standing close to the side of a Land Rover when Mitchell drove past, the front wheel went over the sabs left foot and the wing mirror hit his shoulder, it was at this point when he was sandwiched between the two vehicles. The Southampton sab suffered a badly sprained ankle and other injuries. A police officer on duty at the time of the incident said other vehicles had found room to pass comfortably. Mitchell also claimed in court it was a “set-up”. The court imposed a fine of £180 with £150 costs and had seven penalty points put on his driving licence.

Joanna Mary Scott (28) of Higher Cooksley, Upton, near Wiveliscombe, Somerset, daughter of Diana and Maurice Scott who are the joint masters of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds, was found not guilty by Minehead Magistrates on 8/11/96 of chasing a stag with a Land Rover to stop it entering a sanctuary, which was founded by Paul McCartney. Scott had denied the offence under the 1991 Deer Act. She told the court she was following the deer on 4/3/96 to see where it went, and to prevent trespass by hounds onto sanctuary land.

Following a successful prosecution at Newcastle Crown Court on 28/9/96 five men from North Shields were convicted of illegal fishing. A spokesperson for the Environmental Agency said “Illegal fishing in the Northumbria area has been almost halved since Operation Target began in 1994”. The court heard how fisheries inspectors had watched Mark Alderson (22) of Knott Memorial Flats, North Shields over a three month period. Following a raid on his home they found the bodies of 20 migratory fish in a chest freezer and a receipt book that suggested that £7,742 had been made by the illegal catching of fish, such as salmon and trout. Alderson said he had made £1,500 profit which he had split with David Nolan. Alderson who admitted seven counts of illegal fishing was put on probation for 12 months and ordered to do 80 hours community service. David Nolan (35) of Knott Memorial Flats, North Shields admitted six counts of illegal fishing was put on probation for 12 months and ordered to do 60 hours community service. Paul Mundy (30) of Knott Memorial Flats, North Shields, Kenneth Marsh (36) of Knott Memorial Flats, North Shields and Raymond Mundy (40) of Hudson Street, North Shields all admitted illegal fishing. Raymond and Paul Mundy were each given a 2 year conditional discharge, Marsh was given a 12 month conditional discharge.

Gamekeeper Dennis Stephenson (35) of Park End Estate, Wark, Northumbria was convicted of using a Larsen trap for the purpose of killing or taking a wild bird and fined £100 with £200 costs. During a hearing at Hexham Magistrates court on 18/10/96 the court heard how RSPB officers and police had kept watch on the Park End trap, which had been baited with a live racing pigeon, and had been placed near a pheasant release pen. The prosecution of Stephenson is the first successful one in England and Wales. The wildlife liaison officer for Northumbria said after the case “It is a milestone case and we are delighted at the decision. It is a very important development which will hopefully send out a message to all gamekeepers and landowners that the law will not tolerate the prosecution of birds for prey”. (Larsen traps can only be used under licence from the Department of the Environment for the trapping of birds of the crow family. If you see of any illegal traps or snares you should report it to the police straight away, and not attempt any action yourself).

Yet another gamekeeper in court, Michael Skelly (31) of Stanhope Estate, Tweedsmuir, Lanarkshire has been found guilty of having shotguns and rifles out of his cabinet and of illegal possession of 20 rounds of .275 ammunition and four slug cartridges. Following an anonymous complaint about poisoning police obtained a warrant to search Skelly’s house. During the search they found Cymag gas, .275 ammunition and his guns were out of their cabinet. Following an appearance at Peebles Sherriff Court in September the police have revoked his shotgun and firearms licence. However the court did not fine Skelly or make him pay any costs, he was just admonished (given advice) by the Sherriff.

Yes, you guessed it, another gamekeeper in court – Martin Wise (35) of Hildenborough, Kent will appear before Sevenoakes magistrates charged with possessing two guns, a handgun and a rifle, which is more than more than his firearms certificate allowed. Wise, who has recently been cleared by two juries at Maidstone Crown Court, firstly on a murder charge and secondly on a charge of manslaughter. The cases were brought after Matthew Hodge (20) was shot dead outside Wise’s home in August 1995. Wise, who once worked as a gamekeeper on the Duke of Manchester’s estate, maintained that his .25 “Auto Baby” Browning went off accidentally, fatally wounding Hodge. We hope to update this story when he does appear in court.

The former Grand National winner Bob Champion has been fined £250 for possessing a shotgun without a licence. Apparently he has not owned a licence for his 12-bore shotgun since 1989. Police acting on an anonymous tip-off found the gun stored in a loft at a friends house in Essex. Magistrates told the police to hold onto the shotgun until it was licensed.

(This person appeared in Howl 62 but due to a printing error only half the story was printed).

The case against Edward Tuckwell of Hampton Estate, Seale, near Aldershot was dismissed after two hours, he was originally charged with interfering with a badger sett at Little Common which is on the Surrey Estate. Defended by Michael Goodridge, Tuckwell pleaded not guilty to the charge, he said he suffered a lot of problems with rabbits on the estate and thought the sett was inhabited by rabbits. He denied he intended to gas the sett.

Roy Hattersley (63) the Labour politician was fined £75 by Bow Street magistrates on 20/11/96. Roy Hattersley did not appear in court to hear his fine, but instead pleaded guilty by letter. The court was told how his dog, Buster, broke free from its lead in St James’s Park in London during an early morning walk. Buster then attacked a grey lag goose, park attendants found the goose “very badly injured and close to death”, sadly the goose later died. The magistrates fined Roy Hattersley £25 for failing to keep his dog on a lead and £50 for allowing it to injure the goose and also ordered him to pay £30 costs.

Jason Lidbury (18) from Stockwell, south London has been fined £475 with £75 costs and bound over for a years to the sum of £500 for taking wild birds. The Bow Street magistrates heard how he stole pigeons from Trafalgar Square and sold them to his uncle. Sometimes he would cram up to 40 birds into a box, then sell them to his uncle for 20p each. Ledbury pleaded guilty to six charges brought under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Mark Harvey (30) of Witham, Essex admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a three-year-old Jack Russell terrier which he had owned only a week. Harvey killed his dog by stabbing it 11 times with a commando style knife. Witham magistrates put him on 12 months probation and ordered him to do 80 hours community service and ordered him to pay £350 costs. He was also banned from keeping dogs for ten years.

Angela Pearson (26) of Spa Road, Atherton, Lancashire admitted causing unnecessary suffering after RSPCA inspectors found her 10-year old collie dog Benjy starving in a small compound without any food or bedding. On 6/9/96 magistrates fined her £100 and ordered her to pay costs of £150, she was also banned from keeping any animal for 2 years. The good news is that Benjy is now in a new home and is fit and well.

Farmhand John Smith (39) of Charlbury, Oxfordshire killed his wife’s pet dogs on their first wedding anniversary after she left him for another man. Whitney magistrates heard on 18/9/96 how Smith had slashed the throats of 11-year-old border collie Tosh and an 18-month-old spaniel. He told RSPCA inspectors he wanted to get back at his wife Pam after she moved her lover into their home. Smith who is a former pig slaughterer said he also wanted to “put the dogs out of their misery” because she had left no food for them. “I stunned them with a hammer and cut their throats. It was all over in half-an-hour”. Smith admitted cruelty. If he did this to his pet dogs, what did he do to the pigs in the slaughterhouse, stun them with a brick?

Keith Sherry (38) of St James Road, Orrell, Wigan pleaded not guilty to possessing a wild goshawk, possession of the bird without registration ring marks, and keeping the bird illegally within 5 years of having a similar conviction. The alleged offenses contravene the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. He was remanded on bail until 6/12/96 and will appear at Wigan Magistrates.

On the 23/10/96 a former pet shop worker was jailed for 2 weeks for leaving her rabbit and gerbils to starve to death after she moved house. Christine Bescoby (23) of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire admitted 6 charges of animal cruelty, and was also banned from keeping animals for 10 years by Nottingham Magistrates. Bescoby moved house from Sneinton, Nottinghamshire to live in Lincolnshire.

The following people are due to appear at Nottingham magistrates court in January 1997 charged with various badger offences, Nicholas Grooby (unpaid terrierman for South Notts Foxhounds), Paradise Lane, Old Dolby, Leicestershire, Gary Pearson, Souldern Way, Longton, Stoke on Trent, David William Edwards, Roughcoat Lane, Cavershall, Stoke on Trent and Mark John Hulme, Ash Grove, Rode Heath, Stoke on Trent.


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