A TEENAGER has become the second person to be put behind bars for what the RSPCA described as one of the worst cases of animal cruelty ever seen in the North East.
Robert Smith, 18, was part of a gang of sadists who used lurcher dogs to hunt down, attack and tear apart terrified roe deer and foxes under cover of darkness.
Horrifying footage shot on mobile phone cameras showed the victim animals screaming in agony and fighting for their lives against the dogs, which were being egged on by excited bystanders.
In one clip, a deer had its antlers snapped off while still alive, and people present at the scenes could be heard shouting encouragement at the dogs, and kicking and holding down the foxes and deer with their feet.
Yesterday magistrates in Bedlington, Northumberland said they were appalled after viewing the footage, which they described as “torture of defenceless wild animals”.
Smith, of Blyth Terrace, Ashington, the father of a young child, was sentenced to 18 weeks in a young offenders’ institution after admitting charges of cruelty to deer and foxes, causing animal fights to take place, intentionally injuring deer and hunting wild mammals with dogs.
He was banned from owning any animals for 20 years, and cannot apply for the disqualification to be lifted for 10 years.
Three dogs recovered from his homes have been handed over to the RSPCA and the magistrates also ordered the forfeiture of hunting equipment found at the address.
Smith’s solicitor, Michelle Lamond, said she would appeal against the sentence to the Crown Court, but magistrates refused to release Smith on bail pending the appeal hearing.