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Two 'were caught badger-baiting'

4 April 2008 - BBC News

Two men have been given six-month suspended jail sentences after they were caught badger-baiting with dogs. Simon Evans, 40, of Pencader, and Peter McGuigan, 37, from Llandysul, must also carry out 240 hours of community work. District judge Mark Layton, sitting at Llanelli magistrates, said they were guilty of "sickening and appalling acts of cruelty". The friends were also banned from keeping dogs for seven years and must pay 4,000 each in costs. Sentencing the duo, Mr Layton, said the matters were so serious only a custodial sentence was justified.

He said the only explanation as to why they had gone badger baiting at woodland near Boncath, Pembrokeshire, on 14 October 2006 was "for some sort of enjoyment". But he said how anyone could enjoy such "sickening and appalling acts of cruelty" was "quite incomprehensible".

Earlier, Aled Owen, defending, said custody would have a devastating effect on the defendants. He said as a result of last month's trial, McGuigan had lost his job. He said both men did not have previous convictions for similar offences and played full parts in their local communities.

Last month's trial heard that both went equipped with dogs, nets and tracking devices to hunt badgers in October 2006.

The two men were caught badger-baiting in a Pembrokeshire woodland, a district judge has heard. Peter McGuigan, 37, and Simon Evans, 40, both from Llandysul, on the border of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, had shovels, dogs and netting. It was a "classic" badger-digging set-up, the hearing at Llanelli magistrates' court was told, and one dog had a badger in its mouth. Police stopped them at a sett near Boncath. The pair deny five charges.

John Tarrant, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said that at about 0845 BST on 14 October, 2006 police were called to the woodland. "When the officers attended they could hear dogs, also a loud squealing noise which we say was the squeal of a badger," said Mr Tarrant. There was more than adequate signs this was a badger sett said Prosecutor John Tarrant. The men were also found to have shovels, T-bars, two lurcher dogs and two terriers that had locater collars.

"It was a classic badger-digging set up," said Mr Tarrant. The shovels were stained with blood, the court was told. A metre-deep hole had been dug, and Mr Tarrant said there were "more than adequate signs this was a badger sett." He said the terriers were there to "flush out the badgers" and the lurchers to "apprehend" them. "One of the loose dogs had a badger in its mouth at the time of the police arrival," said Mr Tarrant. "We say it was carrying out the exact purpose for which it had been trained."

A nearby landowner heard a commotion and called police. When officers arrived a limp badger was found in the mouth of a lurcher dog belonging to them and a metre-deep hole had been dug close to a badger sett. It was claimed the men had flushed out a badger and then watched for sport as their dogs fought it.

They were found guilty of four out of five charges brought by the RSPCA.

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