An article in today’s Daily Record reports that Rhys Davies, the Millden Estate gamekeeper jailed earlier this year for his involvement in depraved badger-baiting crimes (see here), had ‘formed a close bond’ with another animal-fighting sadist, Anthony Holloway.
[Convicted Millden Estate gamekeeper Rhys Davies]
According to today’s article, Holloway, 30, who is described as ‘a big player in the pit bull fighting scene‘ and, according to the Scottish SPCA’s Special Investigations Unit (here), ‘a significant member of organised dog fighting and badger baiting in Scotland and throughout the UK‘, sent disturbing videos to Rhys Davies, and others, depicting animal mutilation and footage of his dogs pulling badgers from their setts before being killed. The pair were also exchanging information regarding dog breeds and talking about what dogs are best for killing what animals, be it badger or fox.
Whilst Davies received an eight-month custodial sentence, Holloway and another accomplice escaped jail, as I blogged previously (see here).
Today’s Daily Record article can be read here, but beware, it contains graphic video footage.
The gruesome offences of these men only came to the attention of the authorities after criminal mastermind Davies sent ‘trophy’ photographs of mutilated dogs and wildlife to an online ‘photobook’ shop and the shop assistant alerted the Scottish SPCA. It’s that ‘trophy’ fetish again that I was discussing just a few days ago (here).
The Scottish SPCA’s Special Investigations Unit deserves full credit for getting these monsters into court. And although the sentences handed down were pathetic, tougher penalties are now in place in Scotland for animal cruelty and wildlife crime. New legislation enacted in December 2020 (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. Unfortunately, Holloway & Davies’ crimes were uncovered prior to the new legislation being enacted so it couldn’t be applied retrospectively.
Hopefully we’ll soon be hearing about the Scottish Government’s ‘Independent Taskforce review’ into whether the SSPCA should be given increased powers to tackle other wildlife crimes, including raptor persecution. The Taskforce is due to report by the end of 2022 and the Scottish Government has made clear that the findings will be considered as part of the draft Wildlife Management (Grouse) Bill.
I’d argue that if the SSPCA can deal with the prosecution and conviction of organised crime gangs involved with badger-baiting and dog-fighting, then they’re certainly well-equipped to deal with the raptor killers.