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Keighley badger baiter is jailed for 23 weeks
9:00am Wednesday 23rd May 2012 in News
A 23-year-old man has been jailed for his involvement in badger baiting in a case described by an RSPCA prosecutor as “as bad in terms of suffering and cruelty as one can get”.
Anthony Lee, of Coronation Way, Keighley, was also banned for life from keeping animals after he admitted taking part in an animal fight on May 5, 2010, and causing his lurcher dog Bracken to fight a badger on June 30 and December 30, 2010.
The charges related to three snippets of video found on Lee’s phone which were played to Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
The first depicted a dog shaking a badger as it squealed, as laughter could be heard in the background; the second showed a badger in a dog’s mouth, again being shaken and later killed; and the third showed a dog in a sett, with a badger in its mouth.
A magistrate appeared to wipe a tear from her eye after watching the films.
Prosecutor Nigel Monaghan told the court badger baiting typically involves badgers being dug from their setts before dogs are set upon them and a fight ensues.
He said badgers are robust creatures that do not easily die and they suffer extreme amounts of pain and distress. The animals also bite the dogs, who suffer injuries to their jaws and front legs.
The RSPCA views the problem as “rife” in the Bradford and Keighley areas, Mr Monaghan added.
He said: “In terms of animal cruelty the RSPCA regard this case as bad in terms of suffering and cruelty as one can get.”
He said when Lee’s house was searched by the RSPCA and police officers, a hawk was found, along with a photograph of a dog biting a deer’s neck and a photograph of dogs with a dead fox.
Jailing Lee for 23 weeks, chairman of the magistrates’ bench Robert Thornton said: “This is the most serious case we can think of.”
He said the sentence had been reduced by three weeks from the maximum penalty of 26 because Lee admitted the three charges on the day of his trial.
His lawyer Anne-Marie Gregory, who described the footage as “truly horrific”, said the videos had been sent to Lee’s phone by another person. She said Lee had been “stupid to the extreme” and that he was remorseful and ashamed of himself. He had, she said, been led astray by the wrong crowd.
Speaking after the hearing RSPCA special investigator Carroll Lamport said: “I am very pleased with that sentence.
“I think it is a very sensible sentence by the magistrates and I think it is a strong deterrent to other people. I hope they take it as a message to stop doing what they are doing. It is rife, there is a lot of it goes on, far too much of it goes on.”
When asked why people get involved with badger baiting he said it was for “their own sick, twisted kicks”.
He added: “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.”
PC Richard Oddy, Wildlife Crime Officer at Airedale and North Bradford Police, said: “It is a fantastic result for partnership working between the police and the RSPCA to bring a cruel wildlife offender to justice.”
Anyone with information about badger baiting can call police on 101.