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Badger baiters avoid prison terms

24 January 2008- BBC News

Two teenagers from the Scottish Borders who were involved in badger baiting have avoided custodial sentences. Sean Dodds, 17, and Kyle Lawrie, 19, both of Hawick, admitted digging around badger setts, while Dodds also admitted allowing dogs to kill a badger. Dodds was ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service while Lawrie was sentenced to 160 hours. Sheriff Kevin Drummond said he would have jailed them if it had not been for their remorse and co-operation. In addition to their community service, both men were disqualified from keeping dogs for five years at Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

Both men admitted digging for a badger at a sett at Acreknowe reservoir near their home town in October 2006. Lawrie, of Church Lane, pleaded guilty to a similar offence at woodland near Hawick on 15 November 2006, while Dodds, of McLagan Drive, admitted wilfully allowing a dog to attack and kill a badger on that occasion.

In passing sentence, Sheriff Drummond commented on the "barbaric" nature of the crime. He added that it had been correctly described as a "horrific incident" by Dodds' solicitor. "It is right that the Crown should have taken this prosecution on indictment," he said. "It is a serious breach of this legislation and undoubtedly merits being dealt with by a significant period of imprisonment. Had it not been for the assistance which Dodds provided to the police and his remorse - which I have accepted in this case - I would have dealt with this by imprisonment."

Supt Mike Flynn of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said the convictions were welcome. "They were given a sentence which is a direct alternative to jail so that is encouraging," he said. "It is also pleasing that they have been banned from keeping dogs for five years."

Scottish Badgers species protection officer Ian Hutchison said he hoped the sentences would deter others. "The sheriff has sent a clear message that this kind of cruelty will not be tolerated," he said. "A lot of work has gone into getting these convictions and hopefully those who were engaging in this practice will now be dissuaded."

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