Badger killers jailed after DNA link in Unstone

Chesterfield magistrates' court.

Chesterfield magistrates' court.

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Three thugs have each been sentenced to 12 weeks in custody for killing a badger after the RSPCA and forensic experts matched DNA from the dead animal to one of the culprit’s bloodied clothes.

Antonio Miguel Alonso-Brown and Liam and Nathan Swift were also banned from keeping dogs for life during a Chesterfield magistrates’ court hearing on Thursday, February 26.

The three men pleaded guilty to unlawfully killing the badger at land near St John’s Road, Unstone.

RSPCA Chief Inspector Ian Briggs said: “This case demonstrates how modern forensic techniques can be applied to animal cruelty cases to catch those who might previously have evaded justice.

“By working closely with the Wildlife DNA Forensic unit at the Scottish Government’s Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture we’ve been able to not only catch these men, but connect them to the badger they killed.”

It is the first time the badger DNA profiling technique has been used to match a dead animal to its killers. The RSPCA stated that Alonso-Brown, 22, of Shelley Drive, Herringthorpe, Rotherham, and Nathan Swift, 20, of Hague Avenue, Rawmarsh, Rotherham, were caught by police as they attempted to flee the crime scene in a car on 22 June, last year.

Liam Swift, 22, also of Hague Avenue, was found hiding in a nearby field, according to the RSPCA, after police used thermal imaging from a helicopter.

The badger was found in backfilled earth.

DNA was taken from blood and hair on one of the shovels and a blood stained vest and matched to the dead badger, according to the RSPCA.

All three men must also pay a victim surcharge of £80 each.

A further defendant Connor Podmore, 20, of Park Vale Drive, Thrybergh, Rotherham, pleaded not guilty to killing a badger and interfering with a badger sett and hunting a wild animal.

His case has been adjourned for a trial on May 13.