October 23, 2019 1.45 pm This story is over 32 months old

Man avoids jail, but guilty to badger baiting charges

He has been banned from keeping dogs for five years

A 26-year-old man from Gainsborough avoided jail, but has been banned from keeping dogs for five years after pleading guilty to two charges relating to badger baiting.

Ryan Smith, of Noel Street in Gainsborough, pleaded guilty to interfering with a badger sett and attempting to kill a badger.

He was among three people spotted by a gamekeeper on land near Beckingham, Nottinghamshire, on Sunday, April 7 at 3pm.

The gamekeeper suspected they were badger baiting, which is where a dog is sent into a sett to flush out the badger and attack it for the handler to then dig it out and kill it, or take it away for it to be killed at a later date.

Injuries to Holly. Photo: RSPCA

Two men, who have previously pleaded guilty and been sentenced for the same offences, were arrested close to the scene.

Smith was arrested by police on the same day away from the badger sett. He initially denied the offences but changed his plea at last week’s hearing ahead of a trial.

Smith pleaded guilty to the offences when he appeared before Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, October 16.  In addition to the dog ban, Smith was also given an 18-week jail sentence suspended for two months.

He was also ordered to pay £300 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

In mitigation, Smith said he had ‘tagged along with the other two’.

The badger sett. Photo: RSPCA

The investigation

Officers found a six-foot hole had been dug into the badger sett and there were spades nearby. The gamekeeper said he could see the men jump into the hole.

A net which is often used to capture badgers was also found.

Two dogs, wearing radio collars, were also seized and were taken to a nearby vets in Retford for treatment. The Patterdale Terriers had facial and dental injuries. One dog was in a collapsed state at the scene due to exhaustion.

Once the RSPCA were alerted to the incident, inspector Keith Ellis began an investigation. He called the help of an expert badger witness, who said the sett was active and had been disturbed.

No dead badger was recovered, but the inspector said it is possible the badger had died in the sett.

Holly and Buddy now. Photo: RSPCA

A veterinary expert, who examined both dogs, said the facial wounds were consistent with them having been involved in a fight with another animal of a similar sized and stature.

The forfeiture of the dogs into RSPCA care was ordered and both are said to be doing well. They are due to be re-homed soon.