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Father and son receive 10 year dog ban over badger baiting

A father and son have been banned from keeping dogs for 10 years after being found guilty of the "barbaric" practice of badger baiting.

John Frame Murray, 57, and his son John Murray, 34, were also ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work each when they were sentenced at Hamilton Sheriff Court today.

The pair were found guilty of digging into and damaging a badger sett with the intention of using dogs to take or kill badgers following a trial in March this year, the Crown Office said.

Investigators recovered three dogs from their homes which had severe injuries to their lower jaws, including tearing to the lips and missing teeth.

The pair were caught after witnesses saw and photographed them digging into what was suspected to be a badger sett at Drummond Hill near Sandilands, Lanark on February 2, 2012.

The Scottish SPCA visited the site and discovered an active badger sett which had been recently dug.

Investigators searched the pair's houses and recovered two terrier type dogs and a blue brindle Staffordshire bull terrier which had injuries consistent with having been used repeatedly in face-to-face confrontation with badgers.

Sara Shaw, wildlife and environment procurator fiscal, said: "The intentions of these men were cruel, unkind and wholly illegal.

"The law protects badgers from harm as well as dogs from being used for fighting.

"The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will continue to work to ensure anyone who breaks the law is brought to justice."

The pair were found guilty of three charges contrary to the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

They were convicted of attempting to kill, injure or take a badger and of damaging the badger sett, in particular digging into its tunnel.

The men also interfered with the sett by causing a dog to enter it.

The Scottish SPCA welcomed the sentence.

The charity's Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: "This was a very complex and challenging investigation requiring technical forensic work and a great deal of time and specialist resources."

He added: "During the course of our investigation we found and seized three dogs, two Patterdale terriers and one Staffordshire bull terrier.

"Both Patterdales were found to have severe injuries to their lower jaws, including tearing to the lips and missing teeth. The Staffordshire bull terrier had injuries to its upper and lower lips and nose and missing teeth.

"Following the outcome of this case we are very pleased we can now find these three dogs the loving new homes they deserve.

"This case serves as a warning that we will do all we can to identify and detect persons involved in this barbaric activity, which causes severe suffering, mutilation and death to both badgers and dogs. This includes working with other agencies throughout England and Northern Ireland."

He thanked Police Scotland, Scottish Badgers and Kate Fleming, wildlife procurator fiscal, for their role in helping to secure the convictions.

Animal protection charity OneKind also said it was pleased with the sentence.

Its spokeswoman Louise Robertson said: "Badger baiting is such a cruel and violent form of animal abuse that it is natural to expect a custodial sentence in these circumstances.

"While a jail term would have sent a clear message that pitting animals against each other to fight in such a primitive and barbaric way is totally unacceptable, 250 hours of community service does indicate the court has taken the matter seriously.

"We are pleased both men have been banned from keeping dogs for 10 years."

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Pets

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