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Vow to hunt down those involved in ‘barbaric’ cruelty after Angus dog fighting case

Rhys Davies (centre) was part of a dog fighting ring.
Rhys Davies (centre) was part of a dog fighting ring.

The authorities will hunt down those responsible for “barbaric” animal cruelty such as that shown by Angus gamekeeper Rhys Davies, the Crown Office has pledged.

Davies was jailed for 210 days on Monday for neglecting a pack of dogs he had kept for hunting and fighting foxes and badgers.

The 28-year-old, who now lives in Wales, was also banned from being involved with animals for 15 years and fined £1,800 for firearms offences.

He was caught in a raid after sending pictures to a printer, which showed his criminal activities.

SSPCA officers and police found 11 dogs in varying states of neglect – five found to have been used in fighting – and items consistent with his self-treatment of their wounds.

Rhys Davies (right) had photos and incriminating chats on his phone. Supplied by COPFS.

Unsecured weaponry and ammunition was found in his rural cottage.

His phone clearly indicated he had been part of a dog fighting ring.


‘Barbaric practices’

Speaking after the sentencing at Forfar Sheriff Court, Karon Rollo, Head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit of COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) said: “Animal fighting is a cruel illegal activity which causes terrible and unnecessary suffering to animals.

“The evidence clearly shows the scope of the involvement Rhys Davies had with an organised group that took pleasure in killing wild animals in such a wicked and inhumane manner.

Davies was part of a dog fighting ring.

“Hopefully this prosecution and the sentence will serve as a message to others who would cause such suffering that there are consequences and that they will be held to account for their actions and could also lose their liberty.

“COPFS will continue to work to ensure those who participate in these barbaric practices are prosecuted and would encourage anyone who may have information on animal fighting to contact Police Scotland or the Scottish SPCA.”

‘Incredibly sophisticated investigation’

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “All of the hallmarks of a person involved in animal fighting can be found in this case.

“This includes attempting to treat serious injuries without a vet, bragging to others about those injuries and trying to get ‘trophies’ such as photos as keepsakes of those fights.

“Our special investigations unit lead the way when it comes to taking on these organised, brutal groups involved in animal fights.

Medication used by Davies to treat horrific wounds on his dogs.

“This was an incredibly sophisticated investigation which made it plain as day the accused was guilty and helped to uncover a wider network of individuals involved in heinous animal fights.

“A custodial sentence sends a real message to anyone who wants to use dogs to bait and maim wildlife that they will be punished for it.

“Wildlife persecution is a scourge.

“No animal deserves to be subjected to any pain or suffering, let alone at the level Mr Davies subjected his own dogs and wild animals to.

Davies’ dogs were seized due to the obvious signs of fighting.

“Mr Davies has found that animal abuse is unacceptable and comes with major consequences.”

‘How dare he do that in my Angus?’

Angus-based charity Scottish Badgers also attended the town’s court.

Secretary Dr Elspeth Stirling, said: “It sends a message that violent crime that involves wildlife suffering is just not something that society wants to put up with.

“The majority of the public will be delighted.

“It is like lifting a veil and the public will see what’s going on.

“Research shows that violent behaviour perpetrated towards animals is associated with violent behaviour towards humans and families.

“I suppose the thing that shocked me is Millden is half an hour away from my home and I’ve lived here for all these years.

“He was slaughtering badgers up there and I’ve been down here all this time trying to help children learn how to love wildlife.

“How dare he do that in my Angus?

“How dare these people think they can come and run part of Angus like that? It’s just unnecessary and unwanted.”

Dr Elspeth Stirling (Secretary) and Eddie Palmer (Chairman) of Scottish Badgers were at Forfar Sheriff Court.

Eddie Palmer, chairman of the charity, added: “Countryside like the Angus glens, it’s always been there, it’s bred in people.

“There’s a sort of cosy concept thought about what badger baiting might be about, cloth-capped working class guys in mining area.

“They’re still there, but they’re joined by a lot of other people.

“Both the police action and the SSPCA have been brilliant.

“The Scottish Government, since the last election, has shown signs of taking this more seriously.”

David Mitchell, who attended on behalf of local campaign group Angus Glens Monitors, said: “This case will make a lot of people involved in badger baiting and unsavoury practices have to think twice about what they do, because that’s a heavy-duty sentence.

“The sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime – that’s a step in the right direction.

“I’m just so glad there was a prison sentence attached to it. I think that sends out a clear message to others.”

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