Another (former) gamekeeper jailed for depraved animal fighting cruelty

A number of blog readers sent me links about the conviction of a former gamekeeper who was jailed on Friday for depraved animal fighting cruelty.

Luke Rix, 32, of Gilks Lane, Oxhill, Warwickshire, was jailed for 18 weeks and banned from keeping dogs for ten years after video evidence was found of him stabbing a wild boar and then encouraging two of his dogs to attack it in the Forest of Dean. He was also ordered to pay £500 in costs and a £128 victim surcharge.

This conviction has been widely reported in the press (e.g. see here, here, here, here).

What struck me about this case was that it centred around video evidence from Rix’s iPad, which had been discovered by his (now ex) girlfriend who reported it to the RSPCA. A joint search at a property in Gloucestershire last year resulted in a number of items being seized, including Kevlar body armour for dogs and videos and photos showing dogs ripping apart a fox, dogs with injuries, terriers tormenting a caged rat, and discussions of boar, badger and fox hunting, and conversations with people on social media regarding his hunting exploits.

Many of the media reports included the fact that Rix was a former gamekeeper but none of them detailed when or where.

An RSPCA lawyer is quoted from court, saying that the evidence against Rix showed “this is a game to him which he will glorify by filming“.

It reminded me of the ‘trophy’ photographs that resulted in the recent conviction and jailing of another gamekeeper, Rhys Davies from Millden Estate, for horrific animal fighting crimes (see here).

And it’s not just filming – a number of gamekeepers have been found with leg rings from birds of prey, which could also be considered as ‘trophy’ items. For example, this convicted gamekeeper from Moy Estate was found in possession of a jar containing the leg rings of four young golden eagles but couldn’t account for how the jar ended up on his mantlepiece; and convicted gamekeeper Archie Watson from Wiltshire, who was found with the leg rings from a buzzard and a red kite attached to his keyring, which could only have been removed if the birds’ legs had been broken, according to the prosecution. Watson gave an implausible explanation to the court that he’d found them whilst metal-detecting on his uncle’s farm.

What is it that drives these sadists, not only to carry out these sick crimes, but also to film them and/or keep a trophy?

19 thoughts on “Another (former) gamekeeper jailed for depraved animal fighting cruelty”

  1. There appears to be few practical boundaries stopping gamekeepers doing as they please with animals. Not all will take part in these activities but all will know what’s going on… and this leads to condemnation as a group.
    A GPS tag on the guns they own and the vehicles they drive while at work would be a big step forward.

    1. Ah but you and I know that tagging is not going to happen. Interestingly many years ago I had a conversation with a head keeper about a neighbouring keeper. Said head keeper was certainly not above persecution but he had instructed his 3 or 4 under-keepers to have nothing to do with the neighbour because he was into “dog fighting, badger baiting and other cruelties”Admittedly the final straw was this man allegedly also thumped his wife but I got the distinct impression from John that the animal offences alone were enough. So yes they know what is going on but that doesn’t mean they approve, far from it in some cases. Although sadly the keepering job( whatever is claimed it is definitely NOT a profession) will always attract those who wish to kill wildlife, be the big man in the countryside with a gun and cruel bastards but however much we disapprove generally of their job, and I certainly do they are not all wanton cruelty junkies.
      Gathering the sort of evidence needed in such cases is difficult and sometimes dangerous so yes well done RSPCA. Incidentally I’d have banned the bastard from having any access to guns too.

      1. Well done to the ex-girlfriend also, who was brave enough to report him. Hope she stays safe when he’s let out.

      2. I agree with much of what you say, Paul. Badger baiting etc., is generally indulged in by younger men still finding their place in the pecking order, so to speak. The older they get the more security they need and participation in these areas tend to tail off. However, given the nature of the job, and the esteem that the older men are held, it would be quite easily to infleunce them and lead them in another direction. They choose not to do this in the same way they choose to work in a job that often involve crimes against raptors. For me that makes them a part of the problem. They could also choose to inform the authorities on the quiet and have these men removed and brought to justice. They choose not too. Given the hierarchial nature of the job it is unthinkable that all on the ground do not know exactly what is going on. Without going into the details I was intricately involved with illicit goings on in this environment as a young man before experiencing an epiphany. i know how they work and think.
        As far as stereotyping goes I am also well aware that, in my estimation, they are correct 9 times out of 10 but there is always one who breaks the mould. However that does not take away from the fact that many willingly comply with the unofficial dictum of taking out the “winged rats or vermin” and nor do they correct the language.
        Given what I have said above I view all gamekeepers as being complicit in wildlife crimes committed on their estate in various degrees of culpability..
        i know only too well what happens when they are crossed and strings are pulled at every level …having been subject to it personally.

  2. They may not all take part in these activities but they ALL know what goes on and as I have said before the people who take jobs as game keepers must enjoy killing things as this is a big part of the “job”

  3. “What is it that drives these sadists, not only to carry out these sick crimes but also to film them?”

    They enjoy it. They enjoy doing it. They enjoy watching it back. They enjoy sharing and talking about it to other people who enjoy it.

  4. On the “leg-ring collecting” front, I am one among probably 50 or so people to have been “priveleged” enough to be shown & talked through a “good” collection of these. The keeper in question could pick out any of the rings and tell you what is was, and the location and detailed circumstances it was shot in. Such as “that bugger (*holds up ring) – was a peregrine, I had to sit out five freezing nights in a row at Shitty Scar for it. Then ah got the sod wi’ one barrel hahaha”.
    Me looking back on those days now, it all screams out for comparison with some sort of sexual fetish thing!

  5. I hope they are using the ipad to bring more of these scumbags to justice. I imagine that this is just the tip of the iceberg – god knows the full extent of what our wildlife is subjected to out there! And look at the demographic – a lot of young men either in the gamekeeping community or with links. Would be interesting to see anycorrelation between gamekeeping college graduates and wildlife crime. What are they teaching them?

  6. These men and their appalling sadism beggars belief. No normal person could do this. But it seems to me that their employers must also bear responsibility. If they didn’t know what their psychopathic employees were up to, they should have done. Why aren’t the estates that employ these men mentioned in court? Even if there is insufficient evidence to establish vicarious liability (probably the norm) wide publication of their involvement in sickening cruelty offenses (eg via Facebook, direct contact with corporate customers etc) could get them to behave more responsibly (and not employ psychopathic sadists).

    1. You are never going to get nice chaps doing this kind of work and if you did they would not last long because of the number of things they kill they are not all sadists but they ALL have to kill wildlife as one of the main parts of their job.

  7. At one time firearms and shotgun licenses were reviewed on a regular basis by police officers. If there was any hint of a violent nature by the licence holder it would be removed. During my career as a police officer I caused this to happen at least twice. As far as I know this review isn’t carried out by police officers anymore sadly.

    1. From my experience as a Cert holder it is a lottery as to how each force runs its licencing system, and much depends on the individual officer from the licencing team on the force – and also on what mood he (in my experience) was in and / or nudges he was getting from above to be either very on the ball or quite relaxed. Best example being, after the Derrick Bird spree killings it was as if overnight they suddenly realised to their suprise (!) the capability of the “humble” BRNO .22 rimfire in the wrong hands and became very twitchy about renewals for them. My own prediction – there will be more (I think Plymouth was one) incidents with 3, 5 & 8 shot autos & pumps before they realise that these horrible things (no real need for them outside of wildfowling or someone with a disability / shoulder or joint problems) need very close and special scrutiny. I notice myself how they attract the Rambo mentality among shooting folk – especially a certain breed of often aggressive very young keepers.

  8. There have been reports in the press about young men who consider it is something to boast about when they torture, injure and kill animals. They video these events and post them online to demonstrate their sadistic crimes. These are now considered something to be proud of by the sicker elements in this country. There are groups of these who share information and their horrific crimes online as being badges of honour. The internet has a lot to answer for as this gives them publicity. I question why there has been no effort to trace and arrest these sickos as they can be traced by a number of methods.

  9. Psychopathy in the gamekeeping “profession” is a PhD in waiting for someone with the time and energy. It would be a long job given the volume of study material available.

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