A MAN convicted of badger baiting has been subjected to a series of threats and is believed to be a major target of animal rights activists.
Police are investigating after William Anderson, 26, from Pickering, claimed he was being harassed upon his release from prison after serving just one month of his 16-week jail sentence.
It is thought he has been blacklisted, along with other gang members who were convicted for the offence, on a string of websites run by animal rights groups.
Malton Police Sergeant Paul Stephenson, who had a pivotal role in bringing the gang to justice, told the Yorkshire Post: “After the case Anderson ended up getting threats from various people and various groups as a result. I would imagine they will all be getting aggravation.
“I know that Anderson and his family have been getting strange cars parked outside their house and have been getting things, like excrement, through the post. It’s more intimidation than anything else. I also understand that the men’s names have appeared on a target list on animal rights websites.
“They are not getting police protection and there is no protection planned, we are just looking into each incident that has been reported to us. It doesn’t matter what people have done, everybody deserves to have their individual case heard. We will deal with each one to the best of our ability. It is often not just the people who have appeared in court who are affected, but their families too.”
Anderson was jailed at the beginning of January, along with three other men, for a barbaric attack which saw badgers mauled to death by a pack of dogs.
Describing it as is the worst case of badger cruelty he had seen in 20 years, Scarborough RSPCA inspector Geoff Edmond hailed it as a “landmark case” which was brought about after wildlife artist and photographer Robert Fuller stumbled across the scene after hearing the animals’ screams.
Alan Alexander, 32; Richard Simpson, 37; and Paul Tindall, 31, from York; and Anderson were all handed 16-week jail sentences for their parts in the savage act at Howsham, near Malton, on January 30 last year.
The four were convicted of wilfully killing a badger, hunting a mammal with dogs, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett.
Christopher Holmes and Malcolm Warner, both 28, from York, admitted the offences at an earlier hearing and escaped with 12-week suspended prison sentences. They were ordered to complete 200 hours of community service. All six were each ordered to pay £750 costs and £100 compensation. A 17-year-old boy was made the subject of a youth rehabilitation order.
On January 10, Scarborough magistrates heard how a Bedlington Terrier had been fitted with a tracer and sent into a badger sett to find the animals. Once it discovered a badger, a receiver above ground told the men the location of the animals and they dug a hole to remove them. One badger, which was heavily pregnant, was attacked by around 13 lurchers, causing it to be “torn to pieces” until it bled to death. A second had been shot after a severe attack by the pack of dogs. One was thrown back into the badger sett while another was found in undergrowth.
The men have since been released from jail and are currently being monitored by tagging devices.
Mr Fuller, from Thixendale, near Malton, who secretly photographed the bait after contacting the police and keeping them informed of the location, said the gang’s early release made a “mockery” of the offence.
“It was quite a big case and to then let them out after just one month makes a mockery of the whole thing,” said Mr Fuller, who has stepped-up security at his home amid fears he will be targeted by the men.
“The abuse was probably quite inevitable as it was such a cruel case. It’s a funny turn of events that the criminals, who have been extremely cocky with the police, are now wanting their help.”