A 45-year-old man has been jailed for nearly six months after he admitted using his dogs to hunt and kill badgers and foxes in a string of barbaric attacks.

A 45-year-old man has been jailed for nearly six months after he admitted using his dogs to hunt and kill badgers and foxes in a string of barbaric attacks.

Mr Atkins with his dogs as seen in the seized footageRichard Alan Atkins, of Oversetts Road, Newall, Derbyshire, admitted nine charges when he appeared at Burton upon Trent magistrates court on Friday (June 29, 2012). The court was told by the RSPCA’s prosecution team that Atkins was responsible for “incredibly malicious and sadistic cruelty to animals.”

Atkins was sentenced to 24 weeks in custody and a lifetime ban on keeping all animals. 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.

The RSPCA 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 has 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 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.

Mr Atkins' two dogs used in the attacks were found to be injured themselvesBoth the Patterdale terrier and bull lurcher seen in the footage were found at Atkins’ home when a warrant was carried out by police and RSPCA in March last year. The Patterdale terrier had suffered injuries to its jaw, while 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 admit the charges.

“It is even sadder knowing that, there are many others who are still doing this sort of thing 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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