Millden Estate gamekeeper jailed for badger baiting crimes

BREAKING NEWS….

Scottish gamekeeper Rhys Owen Davies has been sentenced to eight months in prison for his depraved animal cruelty crimes committed whilst he was working on the Millden Estate in the Angus Glens.

He also received a £1800 fine for firearms offences and has been banned from owning or keeping animals for 15 years.

Davies, 28, was convicted in May this year for a series of animal cruelty offences related to badger and fox baiting between January 2018 and October 2019 (see here).

Unfortunately, Davies committed his disgusting crimes prior to the Scottish Government’s introduction of tougher penalties for animal cruelty and wildlife crime. That legislation, the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act 2020, increased the maximum penalty for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife crimes (including badger baiting) to five years imprisonment and unlimited fines. However, it wasn’t enacted until November 2020. As Davies’ crimes were committed in 2019, the increased penalties cannot be applied retrospectively.

Nevertheless, a custodial sentence for Davies is still significant when so many other badger baiters have escaped with small fines or less, including Davies’ criminal mate Liam Taylor who was sentenced in November 2021 for his role in this particular gang with a pathetic 12-month supervision order and 240 hours of unpaid work. He was also banned from keeping dogs for ten years.

Some comments from Sheriff Derek Reekie today:

It is deeply disturbing, the horrific, cruel and senseless nature of the crime as well as the cruelty to your own dogs“,

and

Your text messages demonstrate your sickening enjoyment in what you were doing“,

and

Being a qualified gamekeeper is an aggravating factor which disputes claims of defence of naivety“,

and

You have not shown any real remorse“,

and

Your dogs were subjected to activities that were deliberate, cruel and horrific in nature“.

More on this tomorrow, including the implications for Millden Estate, but for now, a MASSIVE WELL DONE to the Scottish SPCA team who have more than demonstrated their commitment and ability to bring depraved wildlife crime criminals to court. Increased investigatory powers are a no-brainer.

Previous blogs on this case:

hereherehereherehereherehereherehere, here, here, here, here

UPDATE 2nd August 2022: Millden Estate gamekeeper jailed for sadistic animal cruelty – media coverage (here)

UPDATE 2nd August 2022: Depraved Millden Estate gamekeeper jailed – SSPCA statement (here)

UPDATE 2nd August 2022: Two others involved in animal fighting ring with Millden gamekeeper Rhys Owen Davies escaped jail (here)

UPDATE 3rd August 2022: Expert witness for the prosecution of gamekeeper Rhys Davies brands Millden Estate a ‘wildlife sink’ (here)

UPDATE 8th August 2022: Millden Estate: plausible deniability or wilful blindness to gamekeeper Rhys Owen Davies’ crimes? (here)

UPDATE 16th August 2022: Millden Estate’s sporting agent signatory to ‘best practice’ scheme! (here)

35 thoughts on “Millden Estate gamekeeper jailed for badger baiting crimes”

  1. Compare with the slap on the wrist in the O’Shea case: 18 month sentence suspended for torturing and then killing a fox with a garden fork. There is something seriously wrong with the judiciary in this country. If the police pull their fingers out and actually arrest and charge a miscreant and the CPS send someone reasonably competent to prosecute the offender, they can rely on the judge / magistrate to give them the lightest possible sentence.

  2. Not long enough in my opinion; maybe eight months for each offence or poor creature he murdered would be a more suitable length of time put away.
    £1800 is no small potatoes but should have been far more.
    And at least a lot of poor dogs are safe for 15 years. Personally I would have banned him from having dogs for life.
    Our penal system is far to weak especially when it comes to eco crime. But at least Davies received a custodial sentence which is certainly more significant when so many other badger baiters have escaped with ridiculously small fines.
    And at least the Sheriff didn’t mince his words about this deplorable person. He got what he deserved. Good.

    1. You seem to have not understood that the maximum sentence for these crimes has already been substantially increased but cannot be applied retrospectively. So when you say “our penal system is far too weak” which penal system are you addressing: today’s or yesterday’s?

  3. Better than the usual slap on the wrist but it’d have been better given he will be out in a few months’ time, if he had got at least a few years incarceration in which to consider his actions. He should NEVER be allowed to ‘own’ a dog ever agin in myhumble opinion…….it still feels to me as if nobody reallyy cares that much because it’s ‘only animals’ after all. So absolutely tragic.

  4. The Sheriff also said the ” offences are appalling ” and ” unspeakable harm “. But for me the worst part was a message send by this depraved individual to another un-named person ” I need to cut a piece off the dog`s jaw to reseal it “.

    1. I’ve spoken to two people who were involved in grouse beating in their youth, for pocket money basically, who said exactly the same thing, of all the horrors they witnessed (and there many) the very worst was seeing how gamekeepers treated their dogs with the utmost callousness and brutality. In one instance a dog was going to be left to die on the moor unless it extricated itself from a hole. Fortunately it eventually did so. This image of the gentle, country loving gamie with his faithful ‘dug’ they are so keen to foster is as big a pile of shite as you can get.

  5. My god only 8 months, will he actually serve 8 months but we’ll done to everyone that brought this to court.

    1. No. He won’t serve 8 months.

      https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/sentencing-and-the-council/types-of-sentence/determinate-prison-sentences/

      “ For sentences of less than two years the offender will be released at the halfway point of the sentence and will then be on licence for the remainder of the sentence and may be recalled to prison if they breach the conditions of their licence. At the end of that period they will be subject to supervision (see the table below for examples). If the offender breaches the terms of their supervision they will brought before a magistrates’ court and may be punished for the breach. …

      Offenders serving sentences of between three months and four years, with certain exceptions for violent and sexual offenders, may also be eligible for release on a home detention curfew (HDC). This allows an offender to be released up to 135 days before their automatic release date. The offender will be electronically tagged and a curfew imposed. If the offender breaches the curfew they can be recalled to prison.”

  6. He’s probably served some of that sentence on remand in which case will be out in a couple of months laughing about all this with his mates in the pub .
    His employers no doubt the usual kind caring shooting types ” had no idea” what a cruel barbarian they had but have already found filled the vacancy.

  7. Well done to the SPCA.
    Eight months doesn’t seem much. He needs nailing to a barn door to know what pain feels like.

  8. Well done too to the photo lab which drew this case to the attention of the authorities in the first place. Without this the case would most likely have never come to light.

  9. He would have got an even lesser sentence and fine if he had wore a red jacket, rode a horse and used several dogs to kill the foxes!!

  10. I agree its still a lenient sentence, he will be out before Christmas, I would have given 2 year, I hope he never gets a gun licence again, Barn door comment sounds right,

  11. Bags full of pesky dead raptors……no wonder the SGA are so determined to keep the SSPCA from gaining more apprpriate powers of investigation….

  12. Isn’t it very telling that ‘Burt and Rich’ et al are very quick to slander raptor/conservation themes but conveniently ignore the horrendous goings on in their own back yard!

  13. I hope he will get some sort of psychological assessment and be watched closely, if unofficially, in the future. I suspect this behavior that is known about is the tip of the iceberg.

  14. His crimes were truly unspeakably cruel and sadistic, yet he has disappointingly not got the maximum sentence available, he certainly should have done. I would at the very least have banned him from ever owning another dog or of ever having firearms/shotguns again. Criticisms aside it is a step in the right direction. What of Millden Estate now?

  15. This guy has forfeited the right to work with or keep animals and should have been banned for life from doing either, never mind the 15 year ban from keeping them.

  16. Just so sickening. However, now they have him in jail I think it’s important he is psychiatrically assessed to see why this person has behaved as he has. What are the sociocultural factors (education, tradition, peer pressure, child abuse etc.) and are there pathological influences such as low intelligence or other biological indicators? We need to know because there are too many of his sort in the countryside and we need to be able to identify them before their abuse reaches this level.

    Glos Police have a wildlife crime Engagement Group (well done them) and in the early years of it I tried hard to convince the officers that while the countryside looked charmingly bucolic from the their city HQ, out here in the sticks we see these types all the time. They brag in pubs about what they do. The hunts are rife with them as ‘terrier men’ and ‘hunt servants. The countryside is virtually un-policed most of the time. These people can operate not just unseen but pretty much in the open and as much as they like.

    Lastly, as in the recent case against serial raptor persecution offender Archie Watson (https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2022-06-01/secret-filming-catches-gamekeeper-dumping-dead-wild-birds-in-well) very serious firearms offences were committed with a total lack of safety by the individual or supervision by employers evident. This man should never be allowed to own or use a firearm again.

  17. Just so sickening. However, now they have him in jail I think it’s important he is psychiatrically assessed to see why this person has behaved as he has. What are the sociocultural factors (education, tradition, peer pressure, child abuse etc.) and are there pathological influences such as low intelligence or other biological indicators? We need to know because there are too many of his sort in the countryside and we need to be able to identify them before their abuse reaches this level.

    Glos Police have a wildlife crime Engagement Group (well done them) and in the early years of it I tried hard to convince the officers that while the countryside looked charmingly bucolic from the their city HQ, out here in the sticks we see these types all the time. They brag in pubs about what they do. The hunts are rife with them as ‘terrier men’ and ‘hunt servants’. The countryside is virtually un-policed most of the time. These people can operate not just unseen but pretty much in the open and as much as they like. They are arrogant about not getting caught because 99.99% of the time they don’t get caught.

    Lastly, as in the recent case against serial raptor persecution offender Archie Watson (https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2022-06-01/secret-filming-catches-gamekeeper-dumping-dead-wild-birds-in-well) very serious firearms offences were committed with evidence of a total lack of safety by the individual or supervision by employers. This man should never be allowed to own or use a firearm again and his employer put on some kind of warning.

  18. Years ago police officers would call on firearms users at licence renewal times to check the guns licence and security. I had licences removed from a few unsuitable people with precons etc. But there’s not enough officers today to carry out these duties.

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