Hunt members in court for interfering with badger setts

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Two members of the Middleton Hunt accused of interfering with badger setts have been dealt with by the courts with one cleared and one convicted.

Kennel huntsman Barry Andrews, 33, was accused of interfering with a badger sett in woods at Bossall, Malton, by restricting the entrance.

As reported by the Mercury, Mr Andrews, of Birdsall, Malton, had denied the alleged offence last March 12 and was due to stand trial on February 23 and 24.

But the case was dropped at Scarborough magistrates’ court yesterday (Thursday) after the Crown agreed the proceedings be discontinued.

Meanwhile, Terrierman Lee Martin, 44, was convicted of the offence but may appeal for the verdict to be overturned, his lawyer said yesterday.

Martin, 44, also of Birdsall Malton, ‎ had also denied the charge under the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act, which carries a maximum penalty of six months jail.

But he was found guilty and given a 12-month community order with a condition he carries out 120 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay £910 costs and a £60 surcharge following the investigation by the League Against Cruel Sports.

The court heard Martin, 44, was spotted by the investigators on a quad bike near the sett during a hunt meeting on March 29 at Scrayingham, Malton.

The League claimed when it first visited the sett last February the entrances were open.

But when investigators went back to retrieve the footage the entrances had been blocked up and they then spotted Martin.

Stephen Welford, defending, said yesterday: “It has not been decided yet but an appeal against conviction is likely.

“My view is that the decision was wrong in law and contrary to the evidence that was produced.”

During the trial Mr Welford had argued that the prosecution was unfair because it was seven weeks and three days before the League reported the matter to the police.

The officer involved then on holiday for a fortnight and it was 14 weeks and two days before Martin was informed of the nature of allegations against him.

This was far too late for any “meaningful examination of the scene” and as a result the defence had been denied “crucial evidence,” Mr Welford added.