Badger baiter sentenced to 23 weeks


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The Independent Online

A man who urged his dog to attack and kill badgers kept footage of the brutal fights on his phone, a court heard today.

Magistrate Ann Scott wiped away tears while watching three videos of animal fights that Anthony Lee, 23, had recorded for his own "twisted and sick kicks".

Lee was jailed for 23 weeks at Bradford Magistrates' Court after a case the RSPCA said was "as bad as one can get".

In the footage, Lee's dog Bracken and others could be seen fighting badgers, Lee and a friend can be heard laughing "hysterically" and a badger is killed, prosecutor Nigel Monaghan explained, before playing the videos to the bench.

Mr Monaghan said: "In terms of animal cruelty the RSPCA regard this case as bad in terms of suffering and cruelty as one can get."

Lee had previously admitted to three counts of animal fighting and was given three concurrent 23-week sentences for the crimes.

In the first video played to the court, a badger could be heard squealing alongside the sound of "hysterical laughter" from Lee and another person, Mr Monaghan said.

The second video showed a badger being killed after being shaken around in Bracken's mouth while another dog had hold of it, Mr Monaghan said.

He said: "Somebody takes one of the dogs off the badger and another dog continues to bite and ultimately kill it."

The third video shows a dog fighting a badger in its sett, he said.

Badgers suffer an "extreme amount of pain" as a result of badger baiting, Mr Monaghan explained.

He said: "Badgers are robust animals, they don't die easily. They suffer multiple bites, punctures and external and internal bleeding.

"They suffer an extreme amount of pain and distress. In addition, the badger curls up to defend itself."

The dogs involved also suffer injuries, Mr Monaghan said.

He said: "Dogs suffer crushing and tearing injuries usually to the jaw or to the legs and suffer a high level of pain."

Lee, Coronation Way, Keighley, West Yorkshire, was given a three-week discount on the maximum sentence the court could hand down because he entered a guilty plea, chairman of the bench Robert Thornton explained.

He said: "This is the most serious case we can think of."

Badger baiters draw no financial benefit from their actions, RSPCA investigator Carroll Lamport said after the hearing.

He said: "It is just for their own twisted and sick kicks and there is a really high level of cruelty."

Lee was also banned from keeping or looking after animals for the rest of his life.

He was caught after information from a member of the public and on Facebook was passed to the RSPCA.

Police and the RSPCA raided his house in February and seized his mobile phone, his computer, a hawk, and his two dogs - Bracken and Titch.

They found photos of a dog biting a deer in the neck, a dog with a dead fox and one of Lee holding two dead deer, the court heard.

Both dogs have been re-homed.

Mr Lamport explained that the badger-baiting videos were found in the recycling bin of Lee's phone during forensic analysis.

He said: "This was a great example of a police and RSPCA joint operation in order to be able to catch those people and we are grateful to the police for their input.

"I am very pleased with that sentence. It is a very sensible sentence and I think it is a strong deterrent."

Mr Lamport described badger baiting as "rife" in the local area and said it was mainly a problem north of London.