TWO men from Northumberland have been jailed after forcing animals to fight to the death and posting footage on the internet.
Wayne Lumsden and Connor Patterson, both 23, were sent to prison for 26 and 20 weeks respectively by magistrates at Bedlington for offences relating to badgers, foxes, dogs, cats and cocks.
The pair were also banned from keeping animals for 15 and eight years respectively after boasting about their antics in text messages and keeping photos – some of which appeared on website Bebo.
Lumsden, of Park Road, Lynemouth, had earlier pleaded guilty to willfully killing a badger and two counts of causing an animal fight to take place.
Farm worker Patterson, of Whitfield, near Hexham, who the court heard had been an apprentice gamekeeper, had pleaded guilty to two counts of causing an animal fight to take place.
The case was brought before South East Northumberland magistrates by Northumbria Police and the RSPCA.
Prosecutor Denise Jackman told the court police had unearthed a series of videos, photos and text messages on Lumsden’s mobile phone.
Magistrates were read a series of texts exchanged by the pair in which Lumsden bragged of “killing a badger” with his and another dog – something he described as “mint”.
The court was then shown a video of the badger being attacked by the two dogs, then footage of cocks fighting and again men’s voices could be heard encouraging them.
Magistrates heard clothes seen in the video were later traced to Lumsden and that a text message of his referred to spurs used in cock fighting.
urther footage was shown to the court of a fox which had been snared being attacked by a dog. A stick was thrust into the fox’s mouth and a boot – which was later traced to Patterson – was shown on its neck.
Again, men could be heard laughing and encouraging the dog with cries of “kill it”.
In the final bit of footage, a fox was shown in a cage with a dog. The animals are seen fighting with men’s voices encouraging them and hands shown holding the fox’s ears through the cage.
In a search of Lumsden’s home, DVDs were found, including TV programmes about the RSPCA and its work on badger baiting.
Photographic evidence was found on his Bebo page.
In interview, Patterson admitted he had been an apprentice gamekeeper and had a national diploma in countryside and game management. While studying for this, he had learnt how to use snares and traps.
Defending Lumsden, Graham Crouth said his client had got involved in a crowd where he felt the “need to impress”.
Mr Crouth said other people played a more active role in the badger attack than Lumsden, but that there had been “a group mentality” whereby it is “difficult to say that is wrong” and his client had not shown the courage to do so.
Patterson, defending himself, claimed he had been an innocent bystander and had not caused any animals to fight, although he accepted he could have intervened.
After the case, wildlife crime officer PC Andy Swinburne said: “This was a complex and prolonged investigation which led the inquiry across the whole of Northumberland, from Berwick to Blyth and to the western border with Cumbria.
“It highlights the extent to which people such as Lumsden and Patterson are prepared to travel in order to participate in various forms of sadistic pleasure, where they clearly show no regard or respect for the animal being subjected to its horrendous fate, or indeed their own dogs’ welfare.
“I’m pleased with the sentence passed and hope it will act as a deterrent for like-minded individuals.”
They showed no regard or respect for the animal being subjected to its horrendous fate.