Message from York Anti-Hunt League
7th May 2022
We have received the following detailed report about a disturbing badger digging case in our local area. The incident happened in December 2019 but due to various delays the court case has only recently been concluded.
A big thank you to all those involved who stood up to these wildlife criminals, provided evidence to bring them to account and share the details of this case.
Please share far and wide – let’s name and shame these wildlife criminals! Thank you 🦡
Detailed report as follows:-
A badly injured black Patterdale terrier, callously abandoned at a badger sett in private woodland, near Church Fenton led to three men from the Castleford area pleading guilty on 6th May to interfering with an active badger sett at Scarborough Magistrates court.
The three men Brandon Abbott, Jamie Davies (formerly known as Jamie Milner) and Nathaniel Holmes were fined £656, £428 and £252 respectively, inclusive of surcharges, fines and costs.
The men were discovered by the landowner’s daughter in a privately owned wood and in broad daylight on Boxing Day, 26th December, 2019.
Aware that the three men had seen her, the young girl decided not to turn and run, but very bravely confronted them and asked what they were up to in her wood. Two men were digging into the large badger sett whilst the third man told the girl, “We’ve lost our dog, its chased a fox, we have permission.”
The men had a cover story prepared and hoped that the girl was naïve enough to accept it and walk away. However, having watched badgers all her life at this sett, the girl knew exactly what the men were up to and once out of earshot, rang her dad, the farmer.
After calling the police, the farmer drove immediately to where the three men had parked their silver Subaru Forester, Registration number SL03 HWT. The men, now unsettled, left the badger sett and made their way across a muddy field with four dogs, crossing a deep dyke and back towards their car and the waiting farmer.
After angrily confronting the men, the farmer traced the men’s footsteps back across the field where he found two spades dumped in a puddle of water. A third spade was later found during crop spraying. No locator collar from the dog was ever found, a point which the defence impressed upon the Magistrates. Disposing of incriminating items such as spades and locator collar will often save badger diggers from facing more serious charges and can make the case harder for the prosecution.
Thankfully, due to the quick actions of the farmer and his daughter, the Police were able to intercept the Subaru car containing the men and four of their dogs (none were microchipped). The fifth dog, a badly injured Patterdale terrier, was found sat on top of the badger sett, trembling, very timid and caked in mud. It was treated by a vet who found old and infected wounds together with a fresh lower jaw injury consistent with coming head to head with a badger. None of the men claimed ownership of this dog which was treated for the horrific injuries and later rehomed.
Sadly the other four dogs may not be so lucky. They can now be returned to their owners together with the Subaru car! It is heart breaking to learn that the kennels where the dogs have been safely housed for two years had good homes waiting for them at the conclusion of this case. One can only guess at the fate that awaits them when returned to their owners.
Due to the Pandemic and other issues, this case has been continually delayed. Originally heard at York Magistrates Court, it was moved to Scarborough, thus losing much of the initial impact presented by the prosecution in York.
The farmer, his daughter, a badger expert, the police and veterinary surgeon all presented credible evidence in York.
Brandon Abbott of Watling Road, Airedale and Nathaniel Holmes of St. Andrew’s Road, Castleford, gave their employment as Groundworks, Wakefield Council, whilst Jamie Milner, a self employed painter and decorator operates from his home in North Street, Ferry Fryston, undertaking work within Care Homes and in his own words, “doing jobs for letting companies, and both the private and public sector.” Hopefully Wakefield District Council isn’t one of his clients and if so, perhaps they should be more selective before letting a convicted criminal into care homes.
Although irrelevant to this case, Jamie Milner has been part of an organised crime gang and in December 2020 was convicted at Leeds Crown Court of stripping copper wire from power lines putting lives at risk and leaving 45,000 homes without power. He was jailed for 18 months. (The full story for this can be found here: https://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news/crime/castleford-copper-theft-gang-left-45000-homes-without-power-and-put-lives-at-risk-during-incredibly-dangerous-crime-spree-3082376)