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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Caught by his own camera: The sickening photograph of grinning thug who used his dog to hunt and kill foxes and badgers

•Richard Atkins jailed after admitting nine charges of animal cruelty
•RSPCA say it was 'incredibly malicious and sadistic cruelty to animals.'

By Phil Vinter

A twisted sadist has been jailed after he bred dogs to hunt down and kill foxes and badgers so he could film it for a sick thrill.

Richard Atkins from Newhall in Derbyshire has been sentenced to 24 weeks behind bars after a photo showed him smiling with glee as he held a still live fox by the throat.

The 45-year-old, who captured the stomach-churning acts carried out by his dogs for posterity on video, admitted nine charges when he appeared at Burton upon Trent Magistrates Court on Friday.

Shocking: Smiling at the camera sick Richard Atkins caught himself red-handed in this snap that has seen him jailed for using his dogs to hunt and kill foxes and badgers

The court was told by the RSPCA’s prosecution team that Atkins was responsible for 'incredibly malicious and sadistic cruelty to animals.'

In addition to his prison sentence of nearly six months Atkins also received a lifetime ban on keeping all animals and the forfeiture of all his dogs and equipment used for baiting and hunting.

The nine charges he admitted included causing animals to fight, keeping dogs for the purpose of animal fighting, causing unnecessary suffering and animal welfare offences.

Inspectors from the RSPCA’s special operations unit spent two years investigating him.

Appalling: Atkins, 45, trained his hounds to hunt down and attack wild animals. He then filmed the sickening attacks on a digital video camera which he showed to his pals

They were able to successfully bring the prosecution to court when forensic examination of badger baiting footage seized from a digital video camera proved a voice heard in the background was that of Atkins.

The court saw graphic footage of Atkins’s black Patterdale terrier and bull lurcher type dog carrying out attacks on two badgers and a fox in separate incidents in 2010.

In another clip a badger is seen having its leg torn off, while men - including Atkins - can be heard laughing in the background.

As well as the harrowing clips which showed the wild animals being attacked, the dogs used by Atkins also suffered sickening injuries during the attacks.

The defendant admitted that he would attempt to treat his dogs’ injuries at home, rather than take them to a vet and raise suspicion.

Both the Patterdale terrier and bull lurcher seen in the footage were found at Atkins’ home when a warrant was carried out by police and the RSPCA in March last year.

Brutal: A badger is caught in the teeth of two of Atkins' dogs as he carries out one of his nighttime baiting sessions

Defenceless: The animal tries to escape but has no chance against the powerful jaws of the two hounds

Barbarous: As one of the dogs continues to hold the badger's neck, the second attacks the bottom half of his body and one of the animal's legs is torn off

The Patterdale terrier had suffered huge injuries to its jaw and it was partially blind in one eye.

Four other dogs - also believed to have been bred for fighting and hunting - were seized during the warrant, along with paraphernalia, digging equipment and search lights.

Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA’s special operations unit said: 'An enormous amount of time and effort was put into this investigation by our officers and prosecutions team.

'However, it makes it all worthwhile when you see someone like Atkins- who was responsible for such abhorrent levels of animal cruelty - admit the charges.

'After all of my years working in animal welfare, I still find it shocking that someone would deliberately go into the countryside with their dogs, with the sole intention of inflicting unimaginable suffering on a wild animal for their own twisted pleasure.

'It is even sadder knowing that, there are many others who are still doing this sort of thing in England and Wales to this very day.

'Make no mistake though, we will continue to track them down and the next knock on their door could be from us.'



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