|Kevin Andrews||terrorizing badgers with dogs||Balerno, Scotland Edinburgh||August 20, 2006|
|Adam Lennon||terrorizing badgers with dogs||Balerno, Scotland Edinburgh||August 20, 2006|
|Greg Withers||terrorizing badgers with dogs||Balerno, Scotland Edinburgh||August 20, 2006|
|Scott Collins||terrorizing badgers with dogs||Balerno, Scotland Edinburgh||August 20, 2006|
|Liam Collins||terrorizing badgers with dogs||Balerno, Scotland Edinburgh||August 20, 2006|
The 5 are accused of terrorizing a badger sett with dogs and failing to properly treat their injured dogs.
Andrews, age 28 of Hurlford, Lennon, age 21 of Kilmarnock, Withers, age 21 of Kilmarnock, Scott Collins, age 19 of West Calder, Derek Kelly, age 22 of Bathgate and Liam Collins, age 16 of West Calder are believed to be the first to be charged under the Protection of Badgers Act of 1992. Liam Colllins was also charged with firearms offences.
Scott Collins also faces charges of failing to get veterinary help for his 2 dogs, causing them unnecessary suffering.
Lennon and Withers are also charged with causing their dogs unnecessary suffering by baiting a badger, and causing dogs unnecessary suffering and failing to get veterinary help.
The charges follow a joint operation between the Scottish SPCA and the police. The trial is set for December 7, 2006.
6 terrier dogs were seized - including one with a missing jaw and another with its lips bitten off. All the dogs will be euthanized.
Collins, a former gamekeeping student of the year at his college, looked after the Duke of Buccleuch's estate for a year and a half. Game-keeper Withers claimed they had been hunting for rabbits when one of the dogs ran off. Collins had permission from the landowner to hunt rabbits and admitted he knew there may be badgers in the area.
Update September 11, 2007:
(Photo of Derek Kelly & Scott Collins, courtesy of NWHSA) Collins, Kelly, Lennon & Withers all received fines at Edinburgh Sheriff's Court after admitting reckless interfering and blocking up badger setts last year. the animal cruelty related charges and attacking the badgers were not pursued in court. Both the police and animal welfare groups who attended the hearing criticized the outcome.
The Crown accepted the men's story that they had been rabbit-hunting at Balerno, when a Patterdal Terrier belonging to Withers bolted and followed a rabbit into a badger sett. It was later found to ave a number of brutal injuries consistent with a fight with a badger. All 4 men - 3 of whom had trained as gamekeepers - insisted they had only been trying to retrieve the lost dog.
Jim McGovern, wildlife and environmental crime coordinator with Lothian and Borders Police said, "Either they weren't very good at what they were doing or something else was going on the day".
Doreen Graham, of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) said "Serious questions will be asked of the procurator fiscal service. Wildlife prosecutions are few and far between and the court system is doing little to tackle this".
The court heard that all 4 had gained permission to hunt rabbits at Dalmahoy Hill Plantation. Police and SSPCA officials were alerted when a resident heard animal screeches from the woods. They found the men digging into the badger sett and another entrance had been closed up. When the dog was rescued from the sett, it had "blood pouring from its mouth and ears and skin was missing from it face".
Collins and Withers were fined 640 pounds each. Kelly and Lennon were each fined 520 pounds. Andrews was allowed to leave the dock after pleading not guilty to similar charges.