Former gamekeeper jailed for animal fighting and gun offences
A 28-year-old man who kept and trained dogs for fighting has been sentenced to 210 days’ imprisonment, banned from keeping animals for 15 years and fined £1,800 for firearms offences.
Rhys Davies, a former gamekeeper at Millden Estate near Glenesk, was sentenced at Forfar Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to keeping five dogs for animal fighting from 24 April 2018 to 8 October 2019.
Davies also pled guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to two dogs by failing to provide veterinary treatment and to breaching the conditions of his firearms licence by having unsecured firearms and ammunition in his home at Turnbrae House.
The court heard that an employee of a photo print company contacted the Scottish SPCA with serious concerns about the welfare of several dogs pictured in an order for 58 images placed by Davies.
Many of the dogs showed progressively more serious facial injuries over the period the images were taken and several males posing and digging into what looked like badger setts or fox dens. There were numerous images showing dead foxes.
The Scottish SPCA identified them as ‘trophy’ photographs showing a group of males engaging in the organised fighting and killing of wild animals over an extended period.
Davies was easily identifiable in many of the images. Inspectors from the Scottish SPCA and officers from Police Scotland went to Davies’ home in Brechin with a warrant on the morning of 8 October 2019. Eleven dogs were found within kennels on the property. Five Patterdale Terrier dogs had obvious signs of injury.
All the dogs were taken to Scottish SPCA facilities for examination and treatment. Inspectors also found equipment on the property linked to illegal animal fighting including, locator collars, medication, needles and syringes and a staple gun used to staple up injuries.
Speaking after the sentencing, Karon Rollo, head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit of COPFS said: “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.
“I welcome the sentence and the granting of the order preventing him from keeping animals for 15 years. I would like to thank Police Scotland and the Scottish SPCA for their part in investigating and gathering evidence of these offences.
“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.”