North West Hunt Saboteurs

Convicted Terrier/Lurchermen

Bernard Perry of Green Avenue, Little Hulton, Salford and David Worrall of Willdale Close, Clayton, Manchester have admitted interfering with a badger sett and causing unnecessary suffering to a dog. Leek magistrates heard about two men acting suspiciously around a badger sett. One appeared to be digging in an entrance hole and he heard dogs barking. When they were confronted they said they had been given permission by a farmer to hunt foxes and rabbits. A dead fox and two terriers were found at the scene. One of the terriers had part of its ear missing and scratches to its face. A vet said this was caused by a fox.  They were both sentenced to 100 community service, ordered to pay £260 costs and banned from keeping a dog for 5 years.

Keith Blakeman ( 25) of Fryer Road, West Heath, Birmingham and Mark Hadley ( 32) of Kinlet Grove, Northfield, Birmingham have both been found guilty of attempting to take a badger, digging for a badger and interfering with a badger sett. The court were told how the two men were found by the police near a badger sett on a farm in Worcestershire. Both men were sentenced to 50 hours community service and ordered to pay £750 costs by Redditch magistrates on 8/12/95. 

Three North Tyneside men pleaded guilty to interfering with a badger sett when they appeared before South East Northumberland magistrates on 16/11/95. Spencer William Burgo ( 25) of 5 Trinity Buildings, North Shield, Mark Templeton ( 26) of Gordon Square, Whitley Bay and Mark Graham ( 23) of 11 St Lukes Road, North Shields. They were all given conditional discharges for 12 months and ordered to pay £100 each towards the costs. Burgo (who is keen on hunting rabbits, foxes and now it seems badgers) told the magistrates they were looking for foxes and did not know there was a sett in the area. 

Three Englishmen were freed by a Dublin court on 10/10/95 after charges of cruelly treating and causing unnecessary suffering to three terriers were dismissed. They were arrested at Dublin's North Wall docks following a tip-off. The judge ruled the charges against Graham Evans ( 44) of Higher Charge Villas, Todmorden, Lancashire, Paul Cunningham ( 34) of Hawthorne Road, Bacup, Lancashire and David Atkinson ( 38) of King Edwards Crescent, Oxford, Leeds, had been incorrectly brought, as they did not specify where the offence took place. "As far as I am concerned they could have taken place on the moon" the judge said. Three dogs with horrific injuries had to be put down "on humane grounds" one had its lower jaw torn and this had become infected; another was blind; while a number had pus coming from their mouths, as well as deep lacerations to the face. Four surviving dogs, which included a six week old pup, were moved to a secret location. 

Two men caught blocking up a badger sett appeared before Seisdon magistrates on 24/10/95 they said they were asked to do so by the landowner, who thought they were rabbit holes. Gary Pearce ( 21) and his father Robert Pearce ( 48) both of 5 Kipling Road, Lower Gornal, Dudley, West Midlands, pleaded guilty to interfering with a badger sett. Robert Pearce also admitted possessing a shotgun for which he was fined £250. The landowner Stephen Shakespeare of Greenhill Farm, Lower Gornal, Dudley, West Midlands, who did not appear in court, pleaded guilty through his solicitor. All three men were fined £750 each with court costs of £50.

Martin Bradley (29) of 88 Charford Road, Charford, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire and Darren Hattersley (27) of 95 Hurlfield Road, Gleadlass, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, were both given 6 months and made to pay costs of £500 by Redditch magistrates on 9/2/96. They were also both banned from keeping dogs for 5 years. They admitted cruelty to a badger, attempting to take a badger and charges of putting their terriers at risk. They were caught digging a badger sett. After they realised they were being watched by the police, they ran off leaving their terriers at the sett. The police arrested both of them nearby. A dead badger cub was found at the sett along with their 5 terriers, some of which had facial injuries. Martin Bradley also has a previous conviction for attempting to take a badger dating back to February 1987, he was found guilty of digging for badgers. After an appeal at Worcester Crown Court he was fined £200.

Robert Williams (48) of Rickstead Farm, Uppingham Road, East Norton, Leicestershire was convicted of destroying a badger sett and damaging another. On 30/1/96 Lutterworth magistrates fined the farmer £700 and ordered him to pay £260 costs. Williams employed Peter Waddington (42) of Melbourne Close, Kibworth Beauchamp (who was cleared of all charges) to clear shrubs and trees on his land in April 1995. A body of a 10 week old badger was found in one of the setts, on finding this Mr Waddington became very concerned, he said he had no idea that the land had a badger sett on it, and would not have cleared it if he did.

Damien Hughes (28) of 39 Ballytrodden Road, Benburb, County Armagh, Northern Ireland was found guilty by Cookstown magistrates of disturbing a badger sett under the 1985 Northern Ireland Wildlife Order. He was fined £150 at a special sitting of the court in February 1996. The badger sett had been undisturbed for 20 years until Hughes came along with his terriers, he claimed he did not know it was a badger sett and he was only after foxes.

David Swanson (28), Darren Swanson (25) both of Pine Road, East Howle, Ferryhill, and Graham Howard (25) of Coniston Road, Ferryhill pleaded guilty to trapping badgers and cruelty to two of their terriers. They all pleaded guilty to digging for a badger and two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs. On 26/4/96 Durham magistrates heard how the police watched as the three dug up a sett with a pick and shovel. Their three dogs were later examined by the RSPCA and a vet, and were found to have suffered injuries. Part of the bottom lip of one of them had been torn away. They were all sentenced to 5 months in jail, banned them from keeping dogs for ten years, and ordered the forfeiture of all their equipment.

On 3/7/96 Mark Graham Pavit (23) of 20 Ashley Road, Droylsden, Manchester, Nicky Dixon (22) of 75 Edward Street, Audenshaw, Manchester and Andrew Conboy (27) of 14 Sherwood Avenue, Droylsden, Manchester appeared before Macclesfield magistrates. They all pleaded guilty to interfering with a badger sett. A charge of cruelty to a dog was dropped previously by the prosecution.  On 9/8/96 Macclesfield Magistrates sentenced them to 150 hours community service and were ordered to pay costs of £100 each. They were also banned from keeping dogs for three years and the court ordered the confiscation of their equipment.

Three men from the Midlands were convicted by Oswestry Magistrates on 10/7/96 for interfering with a badger sett. Stuart Anthony Fellows (28) of Pond Lane, Parkfields, Wolverhampton, William John Richards (46) of Harrold Road, Rowley Regis, West Midlands and Stephen James Rogers (33) of Lane Avenue, Walsall, West Midlands had claimed in court they were digging for foxes when a local resident heard dogs barking and went to investigate. On arrival the local resident was told that it was a rabbit warren and they were digging for foxes. He then began to take pictures of the men digging, Fellows then proceeded to chase him across the field and at one point hit him across the back with a spade. Fellows was also admitted stealing a camera and assault. During a search of Fellows house in October 1995 by the RSPCA they found three wildlife traps and a stuffed badger on top of the TV. On 13/8/96 Oswestry Magistrates sentenced Fellows to 4 months for assault, 1 month for stealing the camera and 2 months for interfering with a badger sett, all to run concurrently. Richards and Rogers were sentenced to 150 hours community service each and ordered to pay £150 costs each for interfering with a badger sett, they were all banned from keeping dogs for 10 years. Fellows has had his ban from keeping dogs cut to just 3 years following an appeal at Shrewsbury Crown Court on 13/9/96.

Kevin Gustard (24) of Victoria Terrace, Murton, County Durham admitted three offences of digging a badger sett. 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, 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 was put into the sett to find it. Gustard told the police 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.

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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.

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. Bingham said he had been out chasing foxes 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.

Ronny Sanderson of Halifax was found guilty of possession of badger parts under the Badgers Act and for possession of a tawny owl under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Magistrates heard how Sanderson claimed the badger was a road casualty, however, it was found to have dog bites on its neck. The court also heard how the owl had lead shot injuries. He was fined £100 and ordered to pay £750 costs to the RSPCA.

Three men who admitted interfering with the set of a badger were described as "blackguards" by a judge at Trim District Court on 25/4/97. Eventually one of the men, Peter Maher of Grangeclare, Robenstown, Co Kildare was remanded in custody for a seven days. The court heard he had given a false name and address to a wildlife ranger who came across the men. The others were fined. Maher, along with John Casey (32) of Coolcarrigan, and Patrick Mulligan jnr (28) of Knockmore, Carbury, Co Kildare, were charged with entering lands without the owner's permission. Casey and Mulligan were told they must pay £100 witness expenses each in addition to fines of £150 and £100 respectively. The judge also disqualified Casey from driving for 12 months for using his car in connection with the offence. The three defendants also admitted interfering with/destroying the breeding place of a protected wild animal and carrying a spade and shovel capable of being used for the hunting of a wild bird or animal. He remanded Maher in custody for one week to appear again in Trim District Court at a later date. Recognisance was set in the event of an appeal.

David Clark (37) of Bentley Close, Lillington, Leamington Spa and Richard Underhill (37) of Abbey Lane, Southam, Warwickshire were both found guilty of interfering with a badger sett, attempting to take a badger and causing a dog to enter a badger's sett. On 11/9/97 Banbury magistrates took only one hour to find them both guilty. During the trial which lasted two days the court heard how the pair were caught armed with spades at a badger sett. When police raided Clark's home they found his living room filled with badger and fox trophies and gin traps were mounted on the walls. He also had dozens of books on bloodsports and hunting and 50 videos containing footage of rabbits and foxes being trapped and killed. Also caught was Frederick Smalley (69) of Hill Farm, Kineton Lane, Warmington. He was charged with interfering with a badger sett by destroying it on his farm. He was due to be tried separately, but sadly I don't know the outcome of his trial. Their appeal against conviction and sentence was thrown out by a judge at Oxford Crown Court on 12/1/98. Clark and Underhill took their protest before a judge after Banbury magistrates gave them both 60 day sentences for attempting to take badgers, sending a dog into a badger sett and damaging a badger sett.  The judge ordered the men to serve the remaining time of their original sentences, and gave them 30 days each on the other 2 charges, to run concurrently with their longer sentence.

Following a trial at Matlock magistrates court four men from Derbyshire were found guilty of interfering with a badger sett, digging for badgers and killing a badger. The court heard on 18-19/9/97 how Garry Shaw (28) of White Terrace, Rowsley, near Bakewell, Gary Pettipierre (37) of Belper Road, Alderwasley, David Wragg (32) of Sandbed Lane, Belper and Michael Holland (32) of Cowsley Road, Chaddesden were seen by a badger protection group. The group were keeping watch on a sett when they observed the four approach the sett and begin digging. They then watched in horror as a badger was knifed, then bludgeoned to death. The police were called and found the body of a fully grown male badger still warm in a shallow grave near the sett. However, Wragg told magistrates he had stabbed the badger through the heart and then buried it. He said the two terriers were on a scent and had run into the sett, he then dug out the terriers and found one dog locked jaw-to-jaw with the badger and the other dog was also clamped onto it. Wragg said the killing was unavoidable. "It was not sport. I did it to save the dogs." Police took a knife from Wragg and a boilersuit from Holland both were bloodstained and DNA genetic profiling (used for the first time in such a case) matched the blood of the dead badger. On 17/10/97 all were sentenced to five months in prison by Bakewell magistrates. The court also ordered that their terriers be forfeited to the RSPCA. Following a failed appeal at Derby Crown Court on 12/2/98, Holland was sentenced to four months, Wragg and Pettipierre both received three months sentences.

Steven Taplin (28) of Kilburn Street, Liverpool, Paul Archer (23) of Snave Close, Liverpool and Stanley Young (30) of Elizabeth Road, Bootle, Liverpool were all found guilty on 14/11/97 of interfering with a badger sett and causing unnecessary suffering to a fox. Young was also found guilty of cruelty to his terrier. Stockport magistrates heard how a vet had examined the fox that was found at the scene. It was still warm, had 'pretty horrendous injuries' and had bled to death. The court also heard how a greyhound and two terriers were injured, and one of the terriers had such serious injuries that it required three operations to repair the damage to the lower jaw. The three said in court how they had travelled to Stockport to hunt foxes because there were none in Merseyside. Taplin also told the court that they would not have dug at the sett if they believed badgers were inside. He also disagreed that the fox had been savaged by the dogs. "What do you think they did? Give it a kiss?" asked the prosecution. Taplin also stated it was a duty to kill foxes "because they are vermin". All three were sentenced to over 200 hours community service and ordered to pay £200 costs each. Young also had to forfeit his terrier and was banned from keeping dogs for two years.

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James Dempster, Grogor Mitchell and Mark McLay all of Blackburn, West Lothian and Daniel Scott of Livingston were all found guilty of breach of the peace, under Scottish law, after torturing a pregnant vixen to death. The court heard how the incident was caught on video at a disused factory in Rathgate. The video showed the vixen was kicked and then thrown to four waiting terriers, one of the terriers was also kicked by Dempster after it refused to attack the vixen. Dempster was sentenced to three months (but was released on bail pending an appeal) after the court heard he had a previous conviction for being involved in a dog fight. Mitchell, McLay and Scott were ordered to do 200 hours community service.

Three men appeared before Dewsbury magistrates charged with damaging a badger sett and causing unnecessary suffering to a dog. William Lowther, Andrew Lowther and Ian Priestley claimed they were trying to rescue their dog that had been stuck in a badger sett for two days. Magistrates found all three guilty of the offences and were sentenced to 160 hours community service for each offence (to run concurrently) and ordered to pay £50 compensation. Priestley who was the owner of the dog was banned from keeping dogs for three years. The dog was also confiscated.

Unemployed gamekeeper Colin Eddy (36) of 88 High Street, Stetchworth, Cambridgeshire appeared before Newmarket magistrates on 30/4/98. Eddy had denied charges of causing unnecessary suffering to sheep and nine ferrets. Eddy already has a convicted from three years ago for neglecting 40 chickens.

Teeside Crown Court ruled on 4/9/98 that hunting foxes with dogs can be cruel to the dogs. As a result two terrier men were sent to prison for 60 days. Stuart Bandeira (35) of Templar Street, Stockton and Darren Brannigan (25) of Archibald Street, Middlesbrough. Teeside magistrates imposed the sentence of 60 days in July 1998. The court dismissed their appeals against both sentence and conviction for a charge alleging they cruelly ill-treated a black Lakeland terrier by putting it down a hole where it met up with an unspecified wild animal. They had been using spades, nets and dogs to dig the hole and also they did not have permission to be on the farmland. The court were told of the injuries to one of the three terriers with them, cuts and scratches to its face, were a result of ill treatment in putting the dog 'head to head' with a wild animal such as a "fox, badger or other carnivore" in a tunnel. The court also upheld the decision to ban the pair from keeping animals for three years and the confiscation of the terrier.

A man has been jailed for two months after a court ruled that he used two dogs, one of which was found with horrific injuries, for hunting badgers. Darren Wilkinson of Bells Lane End, Hartshorne was also disqualified from keeping a dog for 10 years. Derby magistrates heard on 6/3/99 that an RSPCA officer and a policewoman discovered the Jack Russell terriers at Wilkinson's home. One of the dogs had most of its snout missing and the other one had bite wounds on its ears, cheek and leg. They described the injuries to the more severely-hurt dog as the worst of its kind they had ever seen. Wilkinson admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a Jack Russell terrier by failing to get medical treatment for the animal. But he claimed he had found the dog while out walking and taken it home. Wilkinson's girlfriend, Angela Yates (24), who lives with him, was given a one-year conditional discharge and disqualified from keeping a dog for three years. She had denied causing unnecessary suffering to the badly-injured dog by omitting to take it to a vet, but was found guilty of the charge at a previous hearing at Swadlincote magistrates. A further charge against Wilkinson of causing unnecessary suffering to the other terrier was dismissed at the same hearing after the prosecution offered no evidence. The badly-injured terriers has since made a full recovery after having its face reconstructed by vet. Wilkinson and Yates agreed to sign over both animals to the RSPCA.

Andrew Williams has been sentenced to 100 hours community service and fined £400 for digging out a badger set near Newbury. Williams was arrested in March 1998 with a badger cub and four dogs in the boot of his car. A second defendant failed to appear at court and a warrant was issued for his arrest. (BBC1 South West Today 10/2/99)

Two men found guilty of digging for a badger in farm land near Ibstock have been jailed for two months. Lee Robert Burton (25) of Tower Road, Hartshorne and Richard Alan Atkins (31) of Elmsleigh Green, Swadlincote, both in Derbyshire, were found guilty on 23/3/99 of digging for a badger after a five-day trial at Coalville magistrates. Police were called and after a chase Burton and Atkins were caught. Both men refused to give their names and Burton threatened an officer with a spade he was carrying. Three dogs were also found on the site they all had scratches on their faces. Other equipment such as a ferret finder, shovels and knives were also recovered nearby. A dead badger was found at the scene and the body was still warm. When they were taken to their new home there was a concrete badger on the front garden which all three dogs immediately attacked. Both men were sentenced to two months in prison. Magistrates ordered all equipment recovered by police to be destroyed and disqualified both men from owning a dog for three years. The three dogs had since been found new homes by the police.

William McGregor (33) from Kinross, Fife, was accused of torturing a fox while it was trapped in its den he used terriers equipped with radio location collars to trap foxes in their dens. Dunfermline sheriff court was told on 26/3/99 that McGregor denied torturing and terrifying a captive fox by using two terrier dogs to prevent it escaping from its earth. He also denies cruelty by failing to feed the dogs adequately and failing to provide vet care for a dog with an infected mouth and ear. The court heard that the police had gone to a fox earth after complaints from walkers in the wood. They found three or four exits to the earth, however, all but one had been deliberately filled in. In the middle of the earth was a hole that had been dug out. There was a strong fox smell. Earlier the owner of the wood told the court the accused had no permission to hunt or kill foxes on his land. The court was told that police searched McGregor's house and found a diary. The entry for 2/1/99 read: Went to Dalgety Bay to where there are some fox holes. There was one with a 20lb dog fox. Birky's dog tried for about one hour but it was too fat. Tried Cougar. He did very well for an hour and then let the fox go." Police also found two terriers suffering from injuries. In a bag was a dog's collar fitted with a transmitter, a radio receiver, and a spade with a lead attached to it. On 17/4/99 McGregor appeared at Dunfermline Court and the Sheriff was not persuaded that he had blocked the escape holes of the earth. However, he found him guilty of neglecting his two dogs by failing to feed them properly or provide them with prompt veterinary care and fined him £250.

Three men travelled from South Wales to Milton Keynes on a badger baiting trip Milton Keynes magistrates heard on 26/10/99. Paul Rivenberg 934) of Coed-Coe, Nantyglo; Michael Dutton (27) of Merthyr Vale, Merthyr Tydfil and Stephen Booth (20) of Coed-Coe, Nantyglo, all deny a charge each of killing, injuring or attempting to take a badger and a further charge each of interfering with a badger sett at a landfill site near Milton Keynes. Rivenberg also denies two charges of cruelty to an animal. Booth is also accused of badger baiting but he failed to appear before magistrates. They are alleged to have attempted to lure badgers out of their sett during an evening's "hunt". The men had travelled from South Wales with dogs, spades, nets and bags. The previous night they had been lamping for foxes and there is evidence that they did catch two foxes claimed the prosecution. They were found on a landfill site by a site foreman and a gamekeeper, and asked to leave. They moved on but came back to the sett later on. "The site foreman called police and RSPCA officers and the men were arrested.

Two Bolton men who were caught red handed trying to set a terrier on a badger in its sett have escaped jail. Paul Sheridan (43) of Johnson Fold Avenue, Johnson Fold, and Shaun Harwood (34) of Selkirk Avenue, Astley Bridge, had both been found guilty of badger baiting by Blackburn magistrates and on 21/8/99 they were each sentenced to 150 hours community service and ordered to pay £150 costs. When they were discovered Sheridan had three terriers with him and claimed one of the dogs had run off and chased a fox down the sett, then become trapped underground. Magistrates found the men guilty of digging for a badger, damaging and obstructing a badger sett and causing a dog to enter a sett.

Police on an undercover operation against badger baiters found a disturbed sett, a freshly killed badger with wounds consistent with badger baiting, and five men with dogs hiding nearby, Lampeter magistrates heard on 11/11/99. The men claimed to be hunting foxes, but one, who told police he would never touch a badger, was later found to have two stuffed badgers and a mounted badger's head at his home. When they all appeared at Lampeter magistrates on 1/12/99 Gary David Venton (24) and his brother Kevin Venton (22) both of Bryn y Wawr, Pentregat, New Quay; Gary Alan Williams (22) of Heol y Craig, Clydach, Swansea; Geraint Ronald Woolcock (21) of Cowbridge Square, Gwae-Cae-Gurwen, Ammanford and John Alan Gilmore (30) of Bryn Teifi, Cilcennin all had their charges dropped. Gary Venton also denies possessing excess ammunition and failing to notify the transfer of a shotgun.

Gary Lee Haslam (29) of Moorend, Clitheroe was convicted of digging for badgers but has escaped a jail sentence. Haslam was also found guilty of cruelty to his dog, which suffered facial injuries, was given 100 hours community service and put on a four-month curfew. On 7/2/00 Burnley magistrates banned Haslam from keeping a dog for five years and told him to pay £1,200 in costs and his dog was forfeited. The court heard how Haslam had been seen by police coming out of a wood wearing camouflage clothing and his dog was bleeding from the mouth and eye. Haslam said his terrier had disappeared into a hole and he had dug her out. While digging, he claimed, he saw a fox vault from the hole followed by the dog. Officers later found the defendant's spade and iron bar near to an active badger sett. Haslam said he had never seen a badger. The court also heard that Haslam has had working dogs virtually all his life.

On the 19/9/00 at Southend magistrates Brian Anthony Holder was found guilty of interfering with a badger sett in his garden, in Hockley, Essex, by obstructing sett entrances. In sentencing Holder to a £500 fine plus £250 costs. The Magistrates also expressed their disapproval of the defendant's lack of cooperation with the police - he refused to allow the police to examine the sett and refused to be interviewed by the police.

On 27/2/02 Dolgellau magistrates heard about six men who were found allegedly digging a badgers' sett in a wood. They were accompanied by a dozen dogs. The men told police they were digging for a fox which had gone to ground. They denied all charges. The court heard that two dogs were seen trying to get into a tunnel at the bottom of the hole and a squealing noise could be heard. When one of the dogs, a terrier, was pulled out of the tunnel it was heavily bloodstained and had badger hairs in its mouth. The six were: Tony Edwards (27) of Grimshaw Lane, Ormskirk; Gerrard Gary Daniel Stanley (38) of Cloucas Gardens, Ormskirk; John Garreth Griffiths (34) of Ty'n Llwyd Terrace, Trawsfynydd; Donald Keith Edwards (44) of Cysgod y Coleg, Bala; David William Thomas (36) of Old Tan y Banc,  Penrhynndeudraeth; and William Evans (40) of Pengwndwn, Blaenau Ffestiniog. Tony Edwards was also found not guilty of an additional charge of causing unnecessary cruelty to his Lakeland terrier. Donald Keith Edwards said he had seen a fox enter one of the holes in the area. All six told the court they were hunting for foxes and denied they had visited the site to dig for badgers. David Thomas, who farms at his mother's farm at Blaenau Ffestiniog, told the court: "I've got no interest in digging for badgers. "Why should I go all the way to Llanfrothen when I've got badgers on my own farm?" William Evans said outside court: "I'm glad it's over and our names have now been cleared. "The boys hunt every week and have been doing it for 20 years and we want to carry on hunting."

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Three men re-appeared before Wirral magistrates on 13/3/02 charged under the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act. Stephen Baker (37) of Overpool Road, Ellesmere Port; Stephen Butler (29) of Cedar Gardens, Queensferry; and Stephen Fowell (29) of Whitfield Street, Birkenhead, all deny digging for badgers at Heswall and interfering with a badger sett. The case was adjourned until early July for evidence to be called.

On 8/3/02 a man charged with two counts of causing suffering to a dog has been refused his request to have the dog back in his care during the court proceedings. Paul Nightingale of Thornfield Avenue, Waterfoot, did not appear at Rossendale magistrates but was represented by his solicitor who made an application that his crossbreed terrier be returned to him. But the magistrates believed the dog was being looked after adequately in the care of the RSPCA and refused his request. Nightingale is pleading not guilty to both offences that he was concerned about the care his dog was receiving while not with him. The dog disappeared and was found by a dog warden and taken to kennels in Whitworth. When Nightingale collected it two days later he was told it needed medication for a mouth ulcer. The case was adjourned for a pre-trial review on 4/4/02. This man has a previous conviction for badger digging and ill-treating a dog.

A hunt enthusiast was jailed on 20/3/02 for having an illegal gun to kill foxes. James Hearne (26) of Bryn Coch Road, Sarn, Bridgend admitted swapping his terrier dog for the illegal gun to kill the animals. But the court heard his experience being in jail on remand means he will never go hunting again. After four months custody, Hearne told how he felt like a "caged animal" and he will never touch another weapon. Cardiff Crown Court heard how Hearne had swapped a terrier dog at a country fair in Ludlow for the gun to kill animals "humanely". He told police he the gun for the purposes of shooting foxes. Hearne admitted possessing a firearm without authority, possessing expanding ammunition without authority and was jailed for 18 months.

An accusation of badger-baiting was dismissed on 1/5/02 after a District Court judge said that the incorrect date was specified in the charges. The judge dismissed the charge against Colin Bowie of Glennorth, Banteer, Co Cork at Kanturk District Court, after animal welfare inspector described the condition of a Fell terrier who had lost half its lower jaw and large areas of flesh as among the worst he had seen in 32 years as an inspector. Police found 22 dogs in kennels behind Bowie's house. The court heard that four Fell terriers were found in be in a particularly appalling condition. One dog had more than 30 injury or bite marks on it and had lost part of its lower jaw. Bowie claimed that he was out hunting when his terrier had gone into what he presumed was a fox den. However, he realised that a badger must have been in the hole when the dog emerged bearing terrible injuries.

Three men accused of hunting badgers with dogs lied under oath in a tale concocted to protect themselves Wallasey magistrates heard on 12/7/02. Stephen Baker (38) of Overpool Road, Ellesmere Port, Stephen Butler (30) of Cedar Gardens, Queensferry, and Stephen Fowell (30) of Whitfield Street, Tranmere are accused of badger digging on farmland in Pensby. Prosecutors alleged they fled the scene when officers approached, leaving a dog trapped underground in a badger sett. The trio deny the charges, saying they ran away because they knew they were trespassing. They admitted trespassing on the land up to three times to rescue the dog. The prosecution old the court how the three men, who are not members of recognised terrier clubs, failed to take warnings about possible badger activity on the site. "To hunt on a piece of land, you must obey rules. "You firstly must obtain written permission to hunt, be a member of a working terrier club, be able to identify badger sites on the land and give reliable evidence of your name and address, if stopped by the police. "What you are telling the court today is nonsense because you were there to try to get a badger." The men claimed that they had been interested in visiting the land to hunt for rats, rabbits and a fox. Baker told the court how he had been familiar with the area of land and had been intrigued by fox holes he had found on a previous visit. "I went to the land because there was a nice fox earth there. I could tell by the size of the hole and it stank of fox," he said. "I checked the hole first and then the dog went down it "I am more interested in foxes and rats than badgers. I am not a badger baiter and have even worked with Clwyd Badger Group." Baker then told how he was forced to dig the hole when he found that the terrier was missing. He said: "I tried using my locator and put my arm in to the hole. I was a few inches away, it was so frustrating. I then decided to dig the dog out." The dog was recovered three hours later by officers in a hole on the other side of the field. No signs of fox activity were found at the location. The men were remanded on unconditional bail. On 15/7/02 and witness called The Reverend and Worshipful Professor Doctor Barry Peachey ( dressed as a priest in a bid to appear more creditable) was called as a defence witness.

On 27/7/02 Stephen Baker , Stephen Butler and Stephen Fowell were found guilty of badger digging. The judge told the trio it was " abundantly obvious" they had deliberately set out to hunt badgers. In doing so, he said, they had ransacked the sett and as a result it had since been abandoned by the animals. He also said "I am in no doubt whatsoever that the three men set out on a joint enterprise and deliberately dug into a badger sett. "I'm warning you that these matters go way beyond the custodial threshold." "You lied about the dog being stuck underground and lied about the smell of fox. These lies are beyond an innocent explanation." All three men had pleaded not guilty to the charges. Baker, Butler and Fowell, who have no previous convictions, were remanded on unconditional bail to await pre-sentence reports. They will be sentenced on 20/8/02 and face up to six months behind bars.

On 30/702 at Market Harborough magistrates Francis Kevin Philips of Barrow upon Soar, near Loughborough, Leicestershire, pleaded not guilty to two counts of interfering with a badger sett. Philips is charged with blocking a badger sett as part of his terrierwork for the Hunt, by using illegal methods. The offences are alleged to have taken place, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. The case was adjourned by magistrates until 29/8/02, when a date will be set for trial.

On 20/8/02 Stephen Baker (38) of Overpool Road, Ellesmere Port, Stephen Butler (30) of Cedar Gardens, Queensferry, and Stephen Fowell (30) of Whitfield Street, Tranmere were found guilty of badger digging and of interfering with a badger sett, they were also sentenced to six weeks to run concurrently. The judge also banned the trio from owning a dog for three years.

Animal activists used an infra-red triggered camera disguised as a twig to try to catch a man blocking a badger sett, a magistrates heard. Members of the League against Cruel Sports used the equipment to record Francis Phillips (65) of Thirlmere Road, Barrow upon Soar at a badger sett. Phillips who is an earth stopper for the Quorn Hunt denied two charges of obstructing a badger sett when he appeared at Harborough magistrates on 28/10/02. The prosecution claimed Phillips used heavy lumps of clay rather than loose soil to fill some of the 25 or so holes at the sett. On 6/11/02 Philips was found guilty of interfering with a badger sett. One count of interfering with a badger sett was dismissed but he was found guilty of the second charge. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £1,000 costs. Philips is believed to be one of 40 registered earth stoppers who do work with the Quorn.

Three men were arrested in connection with badger baiting at Teesside Retail Park on 7/5/03. The three local men were arrested and then released on police bail after being caught allegedly setting dogs down badger holes.

On 29/5/03 Edward Daniel Phillips of Catbrook, Monmouthshire, will appeared before Newport magistrates. He was charged with interfering with a badger sett under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. The offence is alleged to have taken place at a badger sett in Monmouthshire.

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On 24/603 a member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) wildlife unit admitted putting a badger's skull on a stick on land at a cull zone in North Devon. The discovery of the skull and a note on DEFRA-headed notepaper giving details of the number of badgers killed in the cull. The Coalition of Badger Action Groups (CBAG) warned that DEFRA staff could be operating illegally. DEFRA pledged to carry out a full investigation into the matter and yesterday it emerged that a member of the wildlife unit had admitted using a skull found on the ground and leaving a message relating to the number of badgers killed in the latest operation. A DEFRA spokesman said: "The member of staff concerned greatly regrets his actions. The incident will be dealt with through internal disciplinary procedures.

Three men were caught digging at a badger sett that had been disused for years, Barnsley magistrates heard on 26/6/03. Darrell Harper (38) of Wellington Crescent, Worsbrough, Anthony Fisher (31) of Monksprings, Worsbrough and Kenneth Hume (54) of Park Road, Grimethorpe, deny the charge of interfering with a badger sett. Hume also admitted he had been rabbiting for 40 years. The three accused were arrested after a swoop by police acting on a tip-off. The trio, who had two Patterdale terriers tethered nearby, told police a third dog had gone down one of the holes after a rabbit. It eventually emerged wearing a locater collar. The site was said to have been recorded as a badger sett by South Yorkshire Badger Group since at least 1996. Dr Barry Peachy was appearing as an expert witness for the defence. On 28/6/03 all three were acquitted of all charges.

John Threlkeld (37) of Low Scales, Renwick, near Penrith, appeared before Eden magistrates on 19/1/04 charged with killing two badgers. Threlkeld pleaded not guilty to both offences. He also denied setting a snare to cause injury to a scheduled wild animal. The cases were adjourned to fix a trial date.

On 31/3/04 Leslie Fowell (34) appeared before Wirral magistrates charged with eight offences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. The charges include willfully injuring badgers and cruelly ill-treating badgers. The badger offences are alleged to have taken place in Flintshire. Fowell is also charged with possession of an offensive weapon and possession of a controlled drug.

Stephen Scott (21) of Galalaw Road, Harwick was fined £300 at Jedburgh Sheriff court on 19/3/04. But, his two co-accused brothers Ian Marshall and Paul Marshall of Burnfoot Road and Wilson Drive respectively both walked free after the procurator fiscal accepted not-guilty pleas. All three men had initially faced several charges relating to foxes and badgers. Scott admitted sending a lurcher and two terriers into a fox set. Two foxes fled from the set and one was caught by the lurcher. A farmer noticed the terrier dogs running loose and saw them entering the fox set. He approached the accused and saw a fox close to the set in its last throes of life. "The accused was then told to get off the land by the farmer". During police interviews Scott a forestry worker admitted responsibility for his dogs and the death of a fox. Since the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act was introduced in 2002, in an attempt to outlaw foxhunts, there has only been one other successful conviction. In December 2003 of a Dundee man, David Murray, who was found on a beach at night with two dogs trying to lure foxes into a trap. Although Murray did not catch any foxes, he was still found guilty under the terms of the law. He admitted hunting for foxes with dogs, but was not convicted of killing foxes.

On 31/3/04 Leslie Fowell (34) of St Paul's Road, Rock Ferry appeared before Wirral magistrates charged with eight offences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. The charges include willfully injuring badgers and cruelly ill-treating badgers. The badger offences are alleged to have taken place in Flintshire. Fowell is also charged with possession of an offensive weapon and possession of a controlled drug.
He was bailed until 23/6/04

Ten people were arrested on suspicion of causing suffering to animals and disturbing a badger sett. The arrests were made as part of in a joint police and RSPCA operation in Bracewell near Gisburn on 26/4/04. The men - three from Barnoldswick and the other seven from Wigan and Leigh - were released on police bail pending further enquiries. The operation followed a tip-off that a group were planning to visit the area to carry out a deer hunt and badger digging. They were arrested at the site of a badger sett. On 6/5/04 a man was arrested on suspicion of taking part in badger baiting after a raid on a house in Lancashire. Police and RSPCA officers raided a house in the Todmorden Road area of Bacup. They seized property and removed two dogs, which are now in the care of RSPCA officers.

A man who pleaded guilty to interfering with badger setts in a nature reserve was fined Euro €350 on 4/6/04. Michael O'Dowd (45) of Grange Crescent, Mullingar, pleaded guilty to two counts of interfering with a breeding area of a protected wild animal and of failure to comply with a request of a ranger. Mullingar District Court heard how O'Dowd admitted he dug out a badger sett, but only after a terrier he had brought hunting got stuck in the hole. His solicitor said he had been hunting foxes and not badgers. National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers found freshly dug out badger setts and bait. When they called to Mr O'Dowd's house he refused them permission to see his dogs or shovel.

On 10/6/04 two Ashington area men were arrested by police in connection with alleged badger baiting and stealing dogs. The arrests followed investigations into badger setts being dug up and the animals being taken away by the group of diggers. Both arrested men, a man in his 30s and a teenage male, have been bailed to appear before Crawley magistrates on 17/7/04. The RSPCA was involved in raids which led to the arrests. Three terrier-type dogs and a cockerel were seized from a house in the Penne Retreate area of Ashington and a Saluki cross-bred was taken from a Washington property. A dead badger cub was found at a sett after the diggers had left.

On 13/9/04 three men were given a lifetime ban from keeping dogs and each ordered to pay £1000 in costs after pleading guilty to disturbing a badger sett. Wayne Robert Hitchcock Senior (45) Wayne Robert Hitchcock Junior (21) both from Norwich Street, Derby and Ian William Hartley (29) of Thurlow Court, Oakwood, Derby, admitted the charge at an earlier hearing and then appeared at Derby Magistrates Court. As well as the ban and costs their dogs were confiscated. A youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons also pleaded guilty for offences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 at Derby Youth Court the previous week and was given a three-month referral order and a five-year disqualification from keeping a dog. A member of the public had tipped off police that the men were digging at a sett. Police officers were dispatched along with a police helicopter which hovered overhead and followed the group back to a layby where their car was. Police were waiting for them at the layby. Two Patterdale terrier type dogs were later recovered shortly afterwards and taken to the vets by the RSPCA. Both were injured, one seriously. The dogs had transmitters on their collars and the men were discovered with locator devices on them. The judge also ordered them each to pay £1,000 costs at a rate of £10 a fortnight. (HOW MUCH!!!)

On 28/9/04 Leslie Fowell (34) of Rock Ferry, Merseyside was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment at Wirral magistrates for eight offences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (four offences of cruelly ill-treating a badger and four offences of willfully injuring a badger). He was also disqualified from keeping dogs for two years. The offences came to light this year when officers were investigating an incident near to a badger sett. Fowell was arrested at his home and during a search of it the police found still photographs and video-tapes showing his Staffordshire Bull terrier and other dogs fighting with badgers. The tapes showed several savage and prolonged attacks by the dogs on badgers. The video also showed the badgers being attacked at night and illuminated by high-powered lamps. When interviewed Fowell admitted that he was present with his dog during all the attacks.

Three men were arrested in Rossendale on 12/10/04 on suspicion of animal cruelty following a joint operation between Pennine police and the RSPCA designed to tackle suspected badger baiting. The three men, a 63-year-old from Whitworth, a 57-year-old from Harrogate and a 43-year-old from Nelson, were arrested following the execution of a police warrant at an address in Whitworth. The warrant was executed as part of Operation Imperial and involved six RSPCA staff and around 20 police officers. The arrests are the third set of badger baiting related arrests this year in the Pennine area; 11 people have already been dealt with by officers following similar operations in Rossendale and Pendle. The three men have been released on police bail and 10 dogs which were seized have been taken to an undisclosed location.

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Lurchermen

Courser Kenneth Alsop is bound over for a year after a sab was assaulted at the national hare-coursing event at Swaffam.

Three pet lurcher dogs involved in savage attacks on cats and dogs were led astray by two rogue animals according to their owner. Michael Murtagh (52) of Warrener Street, Sale, Cheshire has since given the terrier and lurcher greyhound back to their original owner, and taken out extra precautions with his remaining dogs. Murtagh admitted two offences of being the owner of dangerous dogs not under proper control. The court heard that an order had already been made following two incidents in 1984, when two cats were savagely killed in the Sale area. Murtagh was again cautioned in February 1995 when two other dogs were attacked by three greyhounds. Then on 31/3/95 another dog was savagely attacked by four Lurchers and a terrier. Another dog was attacked on 31/5/95 by four Lurchers and a terrier. Murtagh had since got new muzzles and now exercises them on farms in Knutsford, Cheshire. (What does he mean by exercised, coursing maybe?)

Darren Thomas Shanks (26) of Nettlewell, Chester-le-Street, pleaded guilty to the charge of unlawfully taking rabbits. Shanks was fined £40 and £40 costs by Appleby magistrates on 27/10/95. Shanks returned to his transit van (after being out lamping) with 14 rabbits and a hare. He had been hunting with 3 lurchers, and so had broken the conditions set down by the farmer, a David Hastwell, The Buildings, Kaber near Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.

Three men from West Cumbria have been fined after admitting taking rabbits from the Lowther estate. On 25/5/96 Penrith Magistrates were told that Steven Richardson (37) and Mark Newell (25) both of Needham Drive, Workington and Neil Metherell (38) of Pica Cottages, Distington all took rabbits at night from land at Thrimby Hall farm near Little Strickland. The three were kept under observation by police and a gamekeeper on 25/3/96. They had in their possession lamps and batteries. They were all fined £60 plus costs of £40 and the court ordered the seizure of their equipment.

Edward Scarrot (56) from Warwickshire was caught taking part in hare coursing. Scarrot, who came with a group of people, told the police when caught he believed that hare coursing was perfectly legal, but they were then told it was private land. Scarrot pleaded guilty to a charge of trespass in pursuit of game on 23/1/97. The magistrates fined him £30 and he was ordered to pay £10 costs. The case against four others was adjourned until 1/4/97.

Two illegal hare coursers were caught by a gamekeeper, P. Nurdin and C. Johnson both from Poole, Dorset were part of a group of seven coursers seen by a local gamekeeper who phoned the police. When the police arrived the gamekeeper, John Nicholls, identified two men who he had seen releasing dogs on to hares. Both pleaded not guilty and claimed they were just walking their dogs. However, they were both found guilty by magistrates of trespass in pursuit of game. One was fined £100 and the other £50. Charles Blanning of the National Coursing Club said "The NCC totally condemns illegal coursing" he also said "There is no connection between the organised 'sport' of greyhound coursing - such as the Waterloo Cup - and illegal poaching with long dogs". 

Three men from Hampshire Darren Cole (23) of Mount Pleasant Road, Alton, Simon Slone (24) of Kingdom Mews, Alton and John Smith (22) of Lytham Close, Borden were spotted trespassing on private fields near Ridgeway, Oxfordshire by a police officer. Didcot magistrates heard on 30/8/97 how the policeman saw the three men in a field with their dogs off their leads. All three admitted trespassing on fields in search or pursuit of game or woodcocks or conies and were fined £75 each and ordered to pay £25 costs each.

John Richard Oswin (31) and Martin Scott Kendall (36) both of New Street, Southowram, West Yorkshire appeared before Calderdale magistrates on 29/5/98 charged with unnecessary suffering to a fox. The court watched a video showing two lurchers attacking a fox which had been released from a sack. The video showed the lurchers attacking the fox over and over again. The defence claimed the coursing session had been organised to train Oswin's young lurcher. He also claimed the fox was dead or deeply unconscious after the first attack and therefore had not been in any pain. Sadly magistrates acquitted them both after the case was not proven.

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Two County Durham couples have been convicted of using pet rabbits as bait for hunting dogs. Bishop Auckland magistrates heard how Jean Dixon, John Jordan, Michaela Shorrocks and Steven Johnson were watched by their neighbours as they set their lurchers onto pet rabbits. Johnson received a 200 hours community service order and was ordered to pay £400 costs. The other three were each ordered to do 180 hours community service and pay £300 costs.

A farmer said today that four men who were fined £400 for illegal hare-coursing got off lightly. The gang travelled from Wellingborough to Thorney, near Peterborough, with their dogs to gamble on the sport which is responsible for the brutal death of hundreds of hares every year. The four, who were on farm-land at Thorney using lurcher dogs, had come from homes at Gypsy Lane Caravan Site, near Wellingborough, with seven dogs. But farmers spotted the men and alerted police. John Lee (28), Francis Docherty (22), Francis Docherty snr (44) and a 17-year-old youth were all arrested and charged under the Gaming Act 1831 with daytime trespass by five or more in pursuit of game. None of the men turned up for the hearing at Peterborough magistrates on 22/5/00. "This is a cruel sport. Farmers sometimes shoot the hares to stop them being killed in hare-coursing." One local farmer said after the court case.

On 21/12/01 four men from Worcester were fined more than £2,000 after they were caught hare coursing. The group, all from the Lower Smite Caravan Park site at Hindlip, each admitted two charges of entering land in pursuit of game. David Butler (52), David Butler junior (27), John Butler (19), and Harry Butler (25) all from the caravan park off Pershore Road, were each fined £510. Both David Butlers were ordered to hand over their cars. A fifth man, Harry Smith (33) of Cherry Brook Close, Hereford, was also fined £510. The five faced the charges with 10 others following incidents at Southstoke, Wallingford, Oxon, and nearby Chain Hill, Wantage. The 15 who come from the West Midlands, Worcestershire, South Wales, Hereford, Hampshire, and Surrey were all fined between £155 and £510 by magistrates at Didcot, after all admitted entering on to land in pursuit of game.

A dog suffered in agony for days from a broken back after its owner failed to get help. The greyhound was found lying on a urine soaked floor in an outhouse. The dog's owner, Brian Waggott (51) of East Clere, Langley Park, near Durham, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to an animal when he appeared in court at Consett on 22/1/02. Magistrates banned him from owning a pet for five years for the offence and ordered him to do 120 hours community service with £260 costs. The greyhounds had been injured when it ran into an iron fence while chasing a hare.

Martin Joseph Quinn (41) of Africana Road, Moss Bank, St Helen's, Merseyside, was caught on land in Lincolnshire chasing hares. Lincoln magistrates were told on 24/1/02 that Quinn and a co-accused were spotted on a farmland in Metheringham fen with two lurcher dogs. A farm employee saw the pair hare coursing with dogs. They were watched for 20 minutes and then reported to the police. The co-accused's dog was seen to attack and kill a hare. Quinn returned to a vehicle and left the co-accused to continue pursuing hares. Quinn admitted trespassing with intent to pursue game. Quinn told the court he only went to look at a dog. "I was not on land but I've admitted it to get it over with," he said. The self-employed builder was fined £110, including costs.

An illegal hare courser has been fined £420 after admitting trespassing and hunting with dogs on farmland. Reuben Butler was in a party of three men, two of whom had dogs, Spalding magistrates heard on 5/3/02. The offence on happened while foot-and-mouth controls were still in place. Butler was taken to Spalding Police Station where he admitted illegal hare coursing. For daytime trespassing in pursuit of gain Butler of Crawley was fined £70 and for illegally hunting with dogs he was fined £350. He was also ordered to pay £60 costs.

A former pub licensee from North Wales has been banned from keeping animals for five years after he starved a dog and a rabbit to death. On 29/8/03 Flintshire magistrates heard how Richard Jones who now lives on Cannon Drive in Bagillt, claimed in court he was an animal lover, admitted two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to the rabbit and a lurcher-type dog found in outbuildings at the rear of the Swan Inn at Rhewl near Mostyn. In addition to the five-year animal ban, he was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work under a community punishment order.

On 2/9/03 a gang of hare coursers caught poaching in Norfolk were fined a total of £2050. King's Lynn magistrates also confiscated a car belonging to one of the five men. Leonard Gaskin (46) Steven Gaskin (29) and Charley Gaskin (18) all from Coventry, had denied trespassing in pursuit of game and using any dog for the purpose of killing or taking any game. Nelson Smith (42) and a 17-year-old, both from Cleeve Prior, Worcestershire, also denied both charges. The group drove along private tracks in two cars and had six lurcher-type dogs with them. When police questioned the men, they found Steven Gaskin had blood on his hands and over his trousers. "He said all the dogs were his, he was training one of them and he had been coursing. Nelson Smith, who had sold his car since the incident, was fined £1000. Leonard Gaskin was fined £600, Charley Gaskin £300 and the 17-year-old £150. Each was ordered to pay £30 costs.

A man whose lurcher allegedly killed a cat has been ordered to control a Jack Russell terrier said to have been with the dog at the same time. Jimmy Scott Murray (36) of Sandersons Croft, Kirkby Thore, had denied at an earlier hearing having a lurcher and a Jack Russell which were not kept under proper control. On 10/12/03 the case relating to the lurcher was withdrawn after the Eden magistrates were told Murray no longer owned the dog. Murray accepted having a Jack Russell which was not kept under control.

A Little Lever man was convicted of trespass after being caught hare coursing on farmland in Lancashire. William Rogers (40) of Hall Lane Caravan Site, Little Lever, pleaded guilty to trespassing on land, in pursuit of game. Rogers was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £60 costs by Blackpool magistrates on 20/1/04. Rogers was among a group of men working three dogs who were seen trespassing on the farmland. Rogers has three previous similar convictions for

Richard Cartwright (30) of West View, Low Row, near Brampton agreed to help a farmer to rid his land of rabbits ended up in court after straying into a neighbouring field. Cartwright admitted taking 32 rabbits without permission. Carlisle magistrates heard on 11/3/04 that a farmer called the police after seeing Cartwright and two other men Darren Snowden (32) of Brookside, Carlisle and John Taggart (29) of New Street, Wigton on his land. The court heard how they had a ferret, and a small terrier dog tied to the fence and that the men had been digging in the hedgerow where the police saw 32 dead rabbits. Charges were dropped against Snowden and Taggart as prosecutors accepted that they genuinely believed they had permission to be in that field. Cartwright was given a conditional discharge and warned to stay away from unauthorised land in the future. He was also ordered to pay £43 costs.

A Carlisle man who encouraged his dogs to kill a cat in a savage attack has been banned from keeping animals from three years. After his dogs had mauled the cat Darren Michael Coady (33) of Talkin Close, Durranhill, Carlisle, then stamped on its body, picked it up and threw it over a wire fence into some bushes. Following a night out in the pub, Coady was seen and heard by witnesses encouraging his Lurcher and Greyhound dogs to kill the cat by shouting ‘Go on lass, kill it’. He was heard shouting this about five times. Prosecutor Linda Vance told Carlisle Magistrates Court: Coady had pleaded guilty to ill treating the animal. On 31/3/04 Carlisle magistrates gave Coady an 120-hour community punishment order and banned him from keeping animals for three years. He was ordered to pay £70 costs.

Two men admitted poaching for rabbits in Wirral at Birkenhead magistrates on 14/4/04. Gary Fowell of Alderley Avenue, Claughton, and Lee Murphy of Weathersfield Road, Noctorum, were caught at Poulton Hall, Bromborough. The court heard they were dressed in army-style clothes and boots, and were flanked by a pack of five or six dogs. The police saw four males and identified all four of them, in particular Gary Fowell and Lee Murphy. Gary Fowell said they were there rabbiting. They entered guilty pleas to poaching. Both pleaded guilty to trespassing on land at Poulton Hall in pursuit of game, woodcocks, snipe or comies. They were fined £100 each and ordered to pay £65 costs

On the 8/7/04 a Dean Quantrell (44) from Liverpool was imprisoned for 3 months and banned from keeping any animals for 3 years. Quantrell was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a Patterdale terrier by failing to obtain treatment for a severe and infected injury to the mouth. The dog was examined by a vet with expertise in recognising injuries in dogs. He concluded that the injury was consistent with those inflicted by a badger snout. Several other old scars were also noted on the dog. Whilst it was not possible to prove when or where the dog had been in conflict with a badger or who was responsible for the badger fighting, Quantrell was charged under the Protection of Animals Act 1911.

On 13/9/04 three men were given a lifetime ban from keeping dogs and each ordered to pay £1000 in costs after pleading guilty to disturbing a badger sett. Wayne Robert Hitchcock Senior (45) Wayne Robert Hitchcock Junior (21) both from Norwich Street, Derby and Ian William Hartley (29) of Thurlow Court, Oakwood, Derby, admitted the charge at an earlier hearing and then appeared at Derby Magistrates Court. As well as the ban and costs their dogs were confiscated. A youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons also pleaded guilty for offences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 at Derby Youth Court the previous week and was given a three-month referral order and a five-year disqualification from keeping a dog. A member of the public had tipped off police that the men were digging at a sett. Police officers were dispatched along with a police helicopter which hovered overhead and followed the group back to a layby where their car was. Police were waiting for them at the layby. Two Patterdale terrier type dogs were later recovered shortly afterwards and taken to the vets by the RSPCA. Both were injured, one seriously. The dogs had transmitters on their collars and the men were discovered with locator devices on them. The judge also ordered them each to pay £1,000 costs at a rate of £10 a fortnight. (HOW MUCH!!!)

On 28/9/04 Leslie Fowell (34) of Rock Ferry, Merseyside was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment at Wirral magistrates for eight offences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (four offences of cruelly ill-treating a badger and four offences of willfully injuring a badger). He was also disqualified from keeping dogs for two years. The offences came to light this year when officers were investigating an incident near to a badger sett. Fowell was arrested at his home and during a search of it the police found still photographs and video-tapes showing his Staffordshire Bull terrier and other dogs fighting with badgers. The tapes showed several savage and prolonged attacks by the dogs on badgers. The video also showed the badgers being attacked at night and illuminated by high-powered lamps. When interviewed Fowell admitted that he was present with his dog during all the attacks.

On 12/11/04 seven men were convicted of a charge in relation to hare coursing. They were found guilty of entering a St Osyth farm to pursue daytime game by a district judge after a two-day trial at Chelmsford magistrates. After the verdict was delivered, their solicitors announced they will all lodge appeal notices. Lee Ambrose (35) of Hovefield Avenue, Basildon, Walter Buckley (35) of Fenton Road, Braintree, Thomas Harbour (48) of Acacia Road, Basildon, Tom Harbour (22) of Grange Road, Pitsea, Joe Lee (43) of Cranham Hall Site, Little Waltham, and Leonard Lowe (21) of Howefields in Wickford, all denied charges of entry to pursue daytime game and jointly using dogs to kill game. The judge found there was no case to answer for any of the defendants on the charge of jointly using dogs to kill game, and threw it out. Billy Broomfield (19) of Dunmow Road, Braintree, had admitted jointly using dogs to kill game. He denied a charge of entry to pursue daytime game along with the others but was also convicted. A charge of careless driving against him was thrown out. Thomas Harbour had denied a further charge of driving a car off-road, but was convicted. Each defendant, apart from Broomfield, was ordered to pay a fine of £100, with a contribution to costs of £150. Broomfield wa told that because of his guilty plea, he would be fined £50 for jointly using dogs to kill game, and issued no separate penalty for the offence he was convicted of. He must also pay £150 towards costs. All the men were told they could pay their fines at a rate of £5 a week, but the fines will be suspended once the appeal notices are formally lodged.

A farmer who ran over an illegal hare courser has been cleared of deliberately trying to injure him. John Hoyle suffered a damaged vertebrae and shoulder after he was knocked over the farmer on his land near Sleaford, Lincs. Hoyle who admitted trespassing, told Lincoln Crown Court on 19/11/04 that the farmer "tried to kill" him. But the jury found the farmer not guilty after he insisted he braked but could do nothing to avoid a collision. Hoyle and a friend had travelled from their homes in Manchester to hunt hares.

At Sudbury magistrates on 8/12/04 Matthew Giles (25) of Stovolds Hill, Cranleigh, Surrey; Joe Kerry (28) of Gurney Road, Norwich; Matthew Wenham (20) Ellens Green, Horsham; Edward Lee (21) of Parkers Lane, Bracknell, Berkshire; Alfred Kerry (29) of Stovolds Hill, Cranleigh, Surrey; and Wesley Butcher (30) of Stovolds Hill, Cranleigh, Surrey, all pleaded guilty to trespass in search of game. They all took part in an illegal hare coursing event at Great Barton, near Bury St Edmunds. During the hearing Butcher said: "We have all got rid of our dogs and now we know it is illegal we are sorry. We will not be doing it again." All six were fined £100 and ordered to pay £20 in court costs.

Seven people appeared at Bourne magistrates on 23/12/04 to face charges connected to hare coursing illegally on private property. Warrants were issued to a further 17 people but they failed to attend court to answer. In court were Joseph Lee (17), David O'Connor (26), Sean Page (22) and a 13-year-old boy, all from Cambridgeshire, each admitted trespassing in the pursuit of game. Lee, O'Connor and Page were each fined £480 with £20 costs, and the 13-year-old received a six-month conditional discharge with £20 costs. Martin Doherty (24), from the West Midlands, was fined a total of £775 with £30 costs after admitting taking game on a Sunday and trespassing in the pursuit of game. Patrick Doherty (57), also from the West Midlands, was fined a total of £1,000 plus £30 costs after admitting the same charges. John Charles Smith, from Birmingham, admitted trespassing in the pursuit of game and taking game on a Sunday. He will be sentenced at a later date. Smith denies a charge of driving a Subaru estate car on private land. His case has been adjourned to 11/1/05.

A hare courser caught operating on two farms was fined £650 and banned from driving for six months. Danny Mobey (35) from Wallingford in Oxfordshire was brought before magistrates at Ely. The court was told that magistrates had a discretion to ban hare coursers from driving under the Criminal Courts Sentencing Act, because vehicles were used during the offence. Mobey admitted he was part of group of hare coursers. Mobey was also ordered to pay £43 costs. Seven other men accused of the same illegal hare coursing were due in court, but had their case adjourned until 27/1/05.

Six men accused of taking part in illegal hare coursing are due to appear at Ely magistrates on 3/2/05. All six men have been charged with trespass in pursuit of game. Those charged are Larry Connors (22) of Crop Common, Hatfield, Hertfordshire; Francis Connors (23) of Pilgrims Lane, Thurrock, Essex; Thomas Connors (26) of Carshelton Road, Surrey; Martin Hanrahan (33) of The Avenue, Bentley, Doncaster; Felix Connors (41) of Brookwood Lane Road, Guildford; and a 17- year-old man from Banstead, Surrey. The men were due to appear in court on 6/1/05 to answer the charges but as all failed to appear the hearings were adjourned until 3/2/05. On 10/2/05 Larry Connors was fined £500 and also banned from taking out a driving licence for the next nine months.

On 13/1/05 two hare coursers were each fined £500 with £150 costs for operating on farms in Ely. The court heard how the police helicopter was used to catch eight men and six dogs hare coursing. Patrick Connors (41) of Banstead, Surrey and Francis Coyle (45) of Thurrock, Essex, both admitted daytime trespass in pursuit of game. The court was told that Connors' four-wheel drive vehicle was seized by police at the time of the arrest, but the magistrates refused to make a confiscation order for the vehicle this week, after hearing that the loss of his vehicle had put Connors out of work.

Philadelphia - A pit bull enthusiast who sold videos of dogfights and dogs attacking a pig became the first person on 14/1/05 to be convicted under a federal law banning depictions of cruelty to animals. Robert Stevens (64) of Pittsville, Virginia, was found guilty in a Pittsburgh court of selling three videos a jury decided violated the ban on depicting the intentional maiming, mutilation or torture of animals or any wounding or killing. Stevens who runs a company called Dogs of Velvet and Steel, also sold "break sticks" and "spring poles," which are used to condition pit bulls for fighting. Stevens advertised the videos in an underground dog-fighting paper called the Sporting Dog Journal, which reports the results of illegal dog fights. He was caught by undercover law enforcement officials posing as customers. The District Judge also banned Stevens from owning, breeding, training or selling pit bulls or possessing any device used in dog fighting. The court rejected Stevens' argument that banning the videos denied his First Amendment rights of free speech. Stevens faces up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $750,000. His sentencing was set for 21/4/05.

Philip Rowe (50) appeared at Plymouth Crown Court on 21/1/05 accused of the manslaughter of his teenage stepson, who was shot during a night-time "lamping" expedition. Rowe of Stafford Lane, Colyford, spoke only to confirm his name. He was not asked to enter a plea and was given bail until a plea and directions hearing on 8/4/05.

Eight alleged hare coursers appeared before Ely magistrates on 28/1/05. They are Riley Smith (28) from Sandy Lane in Waterside, Isleham; Elijah Wilson (54) from Hasse Road, Soham; Sean Page (22) and Hiram Wilson (31) from Sandy Park in Fen Road, Chesterton; James Ball (22) from Sandy Park in Skeltons Drove, Beck Row; and Albert Smith (20), Reginald Wilson (51) and Terry Smith (21) from Oxney Road Caravan Site, Peterborough were accused of daytime trespass by five or more people in the pursuit of game. They pleaded not guilty to the charge at a pre-trial hearing. They were released on bail and will next appear before Ely magistrates on 3/3/05.

A gang of men from Hampshire caught hare-coursing illegally in the Fens had their dogs and cars confiscated by Fenland magistrates on 14/2/05 to stop them reoffending. Leslie Smith (50) of Alton; John Smith (29) of Bordon; Glenn Keet (40) of Bordon; Simon Sloane (31) of Alton; and Stephen Wells (46) of Bordon, were also banned from driving for three months and fined £350 each with £35 costs after admitting trespassing in pursuit of game with dogs.

Six men caught hare-coursing illegally on farmland in West Norfolk were all banned from driving and fined a total of £4000 on 22/2/05 . They appeared at King's Lynn magistrates and admitted one charge each of trespassing in pursuit of game. Joseph Jefford (21) of Scotland Road, James Crickmore (24) and William Winter (27) of separate addresses in Fen Road, Chesterton, near Cambridge; Joseph Lee (17) of Green End, Landbeach, near Cambridge; Matthew Wenman (20) of Ellens Green, Horsham, West Sussex, and Joe Winter (31) of White Rose Walk, Cambridge, were all unrepresented in court. Crickmore and Jefford, who have similar previous convictions, were each fined £1000, with the remaining four defendants each given a £500 fine. All were banned from driving until 1/4/05. The bench also ordered the forfeiture of their two vehicles a Toyota and Land Rover and told each defendant to pay £15 towards costs. John Jefford (28) of Scotland Road; Christopher Jenkins (19) and Henry Lee, of separate addresses in Fen Road, Chesterton, near Cambridge, and John Lee (31) of Gypsy Lane, Wellingborough, were all convicted of the same offence in their absence. On 22/4/05 magistrates issued warrants for the arrest of two men caught hare coursing in West Norfolk after they failed to turn up at court. The bench at King's Lynn ordered Henry Lee and John Lee should be tracked down. The pai were convicted in their absence in March and were due to be sentenced. John Jefford and Christopher Jenkins both of separate addresses in Chesterton, had been convicted in their absence. Both were banned from driving for 28 days, fined £500 each and ordered to pay £15 costs each. Following an appeal at the start of April Joseph Jefford, James Crickmore, William Winter, Joseph Lee, Matthew Wenman and Joe Winter all appealed against their disqualifications at Lynn Crown Court. The appeal was upheld with the exception of Joe Winter. The remaining five had their bans reduced to periods of 28 days and 14 days.

Two men caught illegally hare coursing have been fined and the Land Rover they used to carry their dogs is to be destroyed. On 28/2/05 Ipswich magistrates ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the Land Rover after the men pleaded guilty to entering the land as trespassers in search of game. Kenneth Smith (38) of Meadow Road, Farnborough and Derek Tomlin (55) of Newbury Avenue, Enfield Lock were charged under the Game Act 1831 after witnesses saw their dogs chase and kill a hare on land. Magistrates fined Smith and Tomlin £100 each for trespassing in search of game and ordered them each to pay £43 costs.

A convicted badger who was said to "despise" homosexuals has been banned from going within 100m of his gay MP. Paul Lewis Rees (38) of Llwynypia, Rhondda, admitted harassing Chris Bryant between 2001 and 2004. Rhondda magistrates heard on 2/3/05 how Rees, harassed the Rhondda MP during political surgeries. A two-year restraining order imposed on Rees also banned him from making attacks on Bryant's sexuality and from threatening or doing anything in terms of harassing him. Rees was also sentenced to a 220-hour community punishment order, to be completed within a year.

Pittsburgh (AP) - A man was sentenced to more than three years in prison 21/4/05 for selling videotapes of fighting pit bulls. Robert Stevens (64) of Pittsville, Va., became the first person sentenced under a 1999 federal animal cruelty law. He was convicted of three counts of selling depictions of animal cruelty. Stevens, tried in Pittsburgh because the tapes sold from his home were bought by the Pennsylvania state police and federal Department of Agriculture agents, sold two videos featuring dog fighting montages and a third showing pit pulls attacking hogs. Stevens' lawyer said the law is overly broad and violates Stevens' First Amendment right to freedom of expression. On the same day, a judge in Mobile, Ala., sentenced Walter T. Ware to 40 years in prison for dog fighting and possession of steroids that could be used to enhance the dogs' performance. Several witnesses testified at trial that most of the 23 pit bulls found his property in December 2003 were disfigured with injuries.

A man with a conviction for dog fighting has continued to own dangerous pitbulls despite a lifetime ban on owning animals, a court heard. Anthony Mullen (47) was discovered with two pitbull terriers in a raid by the RSPCA and police at Tarragon Gardens, Northfield, Birmingham magistrates were told on 25/4/05. The raid on his home uncovered "dog-fighting paraphernalia" including weighing scales, a treadmill, and a breaking stick, used to separate dogs during an organised fight. The two dogs were found to have scars and injuries consistent with dog fighting. Mullen was jailed for three months and banned from owning dogs for life following a court case in Mansfield, in 2001, where he was found guilty of involvement in dog fighting. During the raid - inspectors found 11 dogs, including puppies. Mullen is charged with breaching the original order banning him from owning dogs. His partner, Susan Hancock (48) who lives at the same address, is charged with aiding and abetting the breach. Both are accused of possession of two illegal pitbulls. Mullen and Hancock deny the charges. Mullen claims the dogs belonged to Hancock and he had nothing to do with them. They both say the dogs are not pitbulls but Staffordshire Bull terriers.

Three hare coursers from Cambridge have been fined £200 each for trespassing while hunting hares with their lurchers. At Cambridge magistrates on 3/5/05 John Burton (59), Norman Burton Snr (57) and Norman Burton Jnr (31) all from Grange Park, Fen Road, Chesterton, all pleaded guilty to daytime trespass in pursuit of game. Both Norman Burtons also admitted obstructing a police officer during the incident and were each given a conditional discharge of 12 months. All three were ordered to pay £35 costs each.

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Four men pleaded guilty to ransacking the sett with five terriers and causing the dogs unnecessary suffering. Robert Wenham (23) Edward Murphy (21) Jimmy Eastwood (21) and William Dennard (19) appeared at Sevenoaks magistrates on 25/5/05. Wenham, Murphy and Eastwood all live in Darenth Wood Road, Dartford, while Dennard lives in Mill Road, Dartford. Each was given a 30-month conditional discharge, ordered to pay £500 costs and banned from keeping dogs for five years. Two dogs owned by Murphy are currently in the care of the RSPCA while the other three dogs have been re-homed.

A gang of eight convicted of attempting to take or injure a badger. They were spotted with a pack of 13 dogs, spades and electronic tracking devices on a shallow badger sett near Skipton. At Burnley magistrates on 13/5/05 Craig Jones (30) of Neville Street, Platt Bridge, Wigan; Walter Hankey (38) of McDonald Street, Orrell; David Travis (38) of Winward Street, Leigh; Dennis Buxton (38) of Lune Grove, Leigh; Kim Halliwell (48) of Aylesbury Crescent, Wigan; Lee Standen (24) of Arundel Street, Hindley; Nicholas Lowe (31) of Manor Place, Wigan; and Mark Law (40) of Park Avenue, Barnoldswick, all denied attempting to take or injure a badger. Jones denied a second charge of disturbing a sett by allowing a dog to enter. All eight were found guilty after a five-day trial and warned jail sentences would be considered. The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports. Sean Parkinson (20) of Gisburn Road and Daniel Clark (21) of St Mary's Avenue, were discharged after the prosecution produced no evidence linking them to an alleged badger dig. On 11/7/05 they were all given three-month prison sentences after they were found guilty of attempting to take badgers.

On 31/5/05 at Newtownards magistrates Martin David Joseph Titterington (30) from Rathgael Road, Bangor, Co Down pleaded guilty to badger baiting and to disturbing a badger in its set. The charges, of badger baiting and disturbing a badger in its set, follow the incident when a pitbull was filmed savaging a badger to death for sport with the man looking on. Sentencing was adjourned until 27/6/05 when the magistrate will receive a pre-sentence report.

On 6/7/05 Stephen Tucker (50) of Lyndhurst Avenue, Blidworth admitted interfering with a badger sett by putting his pet terrier down one of its holes. Tucker was spotted by police digging at a sett with former gamekeeper Walter Wilkinson (79) of Retford Road, North Wheatley, who initially denied digging for badgers, interfering with the sett and ill treating two terriers. During the trial at Worksop magistrates Tucker admitted damaging the sett and ill treating the dogs as it emerged he had been convicted of similar charges 12 years ago. Tucker told the police and RSPCA inspectors that he loved hunting and 'lived for it'. All charges against Wilkinson were dismissed by the judge on the grounds of his age and ill health!!!!! On 8/8/05 Tucker was ordered to pay £6,000 costs to the RSPCA and to complete 180 hours community punishment. He was also banned from keeping terriers for life.

On 24/5/05 a judge upheld the decision made by Wisbech magistrates in October 2004 that a Subaru Legacy belonging to Patrick Ward (45) of Buckington, Warwickshire be crushed. It was confiscated after he was charged with taking part in illegal hare coursing in Spaldwick, near Huntingdon. As well as having his car crushed, Ward was given a £300 fine and disqualified from driving for six months.

Three men charged with poaching just hours after the hunting ban came into effect in February appeared before Chippenham magistrates on 26/5/05. They were not charged under the new legislation that made hunting with hounds illegal but they were found with four dogs, a gun and two dead animals. Timothy Barry (54) of Cork, Ireland with Steven Edwards (32) and Davyn Jones (33) both from Mid Glamorgan pleaded guilty to poaching by night. The gun belonged to Gerard Mabey (33) also from Mid Glamorgan who did not appear in court. He is charged with possessing a firearm and poaching. Magistrates issued a warrant. Jones was found in possession of two lock knives and was charged with having a blade or point in a public place. Jones, Barry and Edwards were ordered to pay £70 costs and an £80 fine. Jones was fined an extra £100 for being in possession of the two lock knives and he was ordered to destroy them.

On 31/5/05 Patrick Nevin his son Martin Nevin and a 15-year-old boy pleaded guilty to trespassing in pursuit of game. At Cambridge magistrates Martin Nevin of Saunton Court, Southall, admitted he trespassed. The 15-year-old admitted he committed the same offence. Patrick Nevin, also of Saunton Court, Southall, pleaded guilty to both incidents of hare coursing when he previously appeared at Cambridge magistrates 13/5/05. He was also convicted at an earlier hearing of a third offence of hare coursing. On 27/6/05 the a judge put an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) on Patrick Nevin after he was persistently caught breaking the law. If Nevin steps foot inside Cambridgeshire with lurcher dogs, or if he trespasses on land in the next three years, he faces being jailed. The court also ordered that two lurchers and a Ford Fiesta Courier van, owned by Nevin are forfeited. He was also handed a suspended six-month driving ban and ordered to pay a £900 fine and £200 court costs.

On 1/6/05 a pair of travellers were each been fined £450 and banned from driving for three months after being caught hare coursing. Patrick Nevin and Martin Nevin both of Saunton Court, Southall, Hemel Hempstead were arrested as they tried to flee police through a hedge with another man, a 12-year-old boy and four lurchers dogs. Both admitted trespass in pursuit of game. Both men were also ordered to each pay £75 court costs.

Police arrested two men in connection with alleged attacks on domestic cats using lurcher-type dogs in Carlisle. The two local men were arrested on 6/6/05 and are now helping Cumbria Police with their inquiries. The arrests follow several reports in the media of pet cats being targeted by gangs of youths with dogs.

James MacDonald (32) from Kirkcaldy, admitted he deliberately hunted a hare with dogs on a field. Not guilty charges were accepted for Shaun Mahon (17) and Samuel McDonald both of Kirkcaldy, by the Crown. Sentence on MacDonald was deferred until 15/6/05 for background reports.

Steven Booth (30) of Provost Rust Drive, Michael Sim (22) of Moir Drive, Colin Stewart (21) of Cummings Park Drive, and Donald Stewart (35) of Strachan Place, all from Aberdeen were all arrested by police as they returned to the van after illegally hunting hares with lurchers. Kevin Leslie (23) of Fowler Avenue, Aberdeen was found hiding in woodland. All admitted the crime at Stonehaven Sheriff Court on 19/8/05. The Sheriff Forbes and deferred the case, including the requested forfeiture matters, for reports.

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