Four men have been sentenced for offences under the Badger Act 1992 and Animal Welfare Act 2006 after they were found interfering with a known badger sett.
Clint Dodd, 23, Michael Dodd, 28, both of Thornhill Gardens, Hartlepool, Daniel Joyce, 29, of Granville Avenue, Hartlepool and Connor Pounder,23, of Speeding Drive, Hartlepool, all pleaded guilty to the offences of digging for badgers, interfering with a badger sett and causing unnecessary suffering to a Jagd Terrier which they were using to send down the badger sett.
A fifth defendant, Shaun Brown, 28, of Runciman Road, Hartlepool, failed to attend court and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
A member of the public spotted a group of men close to a known badger sett in Hovingham on January 11, 2019 and immediately reported it to North Yorkshire Police.
When officers arrived, they found four of the men digging the sett and scanning the ground with a tracker locator device trying to trace a dog which was currently in the sett.
The terrier dog, Brock, was underweight and found with serious injuries to his face and muzzle as well as painful ulcerations to his eyes and an untreated eye infection.
He was treated by local vets and will now be rehomed. The Jagd Terrier is a German breed, renowned for their hunting abilities so will often be used to engage in illegal activities such as badger baiting. The name ‘Brock’ is also a colloquialism for badger.
The four men (Clint Dodd, Michael Dodd, Joyce and Pounder) were disqualified from keeping dogs for five years and ordered to pay costs.
Clint Dodd, Joyce and Pounder were all given a 10 week suspended sentence and an Order not to enter North Yorkshire for 12 months. Michael Dodd was already in receipt of a suspended sentence for driving whilst disqualified and was consequently jailed for 14 weeks.
The four men were sentenced at Scarborough Magistrates Court on 29 July 2019.
North Yorkshire Police’s Inspector Kevin Kelly is Head of the national Badger Persecution Priority Delivery Group (BPPDG).
He said: “I took on this role because I’m serious about badger crime and I hope this sentencing result sends a clear message that badger persecution will not be tolerated. You interfere with badger sets, you receive a custodial sentence – it’s as simple as that.
“Wildlife crime can often be contested and hard fought in the court room so it’s positive to see the defendants in this case plead guilty on first appearance.
"It demonstrates the importance of the partnership working that we have championed in the BPPDG – using the skills and knowledge of key partners, former wildlife crime officers and expert witnesses to present a strong case to the Crown Prosecution Service.
“This case has been led by one of North Yorkshire Police’s new Wildlife Crime Officers, PC Rory Sadler and it’s great to see such a positive result. I’d also like to praise the actions of the member of the public who reported the sett disturbance.
"It’s really important that people are vigilant to wildlife crime and we start working on our legacy now to develop the next generation.”
RSPCA Inspector and National Wildlife Officer Coordinator, Geoff Edmond, said: “The RSPCA works very closely with North Yorkshire Police to achieve best practice when investigating rural and wildlife crime. Significant results are now being seen in the courts.
"This case highlights the skills and expertise being achieved which sends a strong message that crimes like this involving cruelty to badgers and injuries to the dogs involved will be investigated and dealt with seriously at court. Badger related crime is horrific, unnecessary and will not be tolerated.”