A BRADFORD man grinned as he was led away to start a 26-week prison sentence for his part in a badger baiting gang where he was heard laughing as he filmed the animals being savaged by dogs.

Peter Walker, 21, formerly of Shirley Road, Bierley, had been found guilty at trial at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court in August for ten charges of animal cruelty on January 18 and 25, 2015.

Magistrates sitting today saw a six-minute video shot by Walker on one of the dates and showing four dogs dragging two badgers from a sett and fighting with them.

RSPCA prosecutor Andrew Davidson said: “It is the most serious case I have seen of deliberate animal cruelty. It is a top-end level of cruelty.

“It was a significantly planned activity and his was culpable involvement through his presence and encouragement. He is also heard laughing in a manic fashion,” said Mr Davidson.

Walker was also heard to say one of the badgers was “still putting up a fight” and “ten minutes and it’s still alive”.

The defendant had admitted being present when the offences were committed in woodland in North Yorkshire, believed to be near York, but denied playing an active role as he was filming the group’s activities on a mobile phone.

Defence solicitor Kevin Walker said Walker, a labourer, suffered from ADHD as a child and did not learn to read and write. He made friends with the wrong people and claimed he did not know they were going badger baiting. He went along with it to not appear weak. He did not own a dog.

He said he was not involved directly because he had been asked only to film the events and had tried to limit his involvement with these friends.

“He is thoroughly ashamed of his involvement and has lost the respect of his family who have thrown him out of the family home.”

Mr Walker asked that his client be given a suspended sentence claiming he was a “changed man”.

The bench said: “You were there, you were involved and you did nothing to try to stop it. You also returned to a similar place on a second occasion.

“On the footage we have seen today you could be heard laughing. Any reasonable person would have found the activity despicable.”

Walker was told there would be no reduction in sentence. He was to be subject to a requirement order for 12 months and was disqualified from keeping or owning any animal for life.