THREE young men attacked a paddock of pigs and rare breed sheep with stones and a wooden fence post after a late night drinking session in Bridlington, a court has heard.
The attack was so distressing the animals were left cowering and shaking in their pens, while the court heard that it may have played a part in the death of a young lamb just weeks later.
Daniel Thomas Hall, 21, of Church Lane, Flamborough, Robert Lee, 18, of Lighthouse Road, Flamborough, and Daniel Alan Wood, 18, of Dog and Duck Square, Flamborough, all pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal when they appeared at Bridlington Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday.
Prosecutor Jayne Wilson told the court that at around 6.15am on August 4 a witness heard shouting coming from a neighbouring field at Maitland, in Flamborough.
He saw three people in the field who appeared drunk and were passing a lager can around.
One of the men, later identified as Hall, was seen hitting one of the pigs with a fence post while another, identified as Wood, was seen to pick up some stones, throw them at the pigs and kick one closest to him.
The third culprit, identified as Lee, was seen chasing the sheep.
The witness, who said he was “physically sickened” by what he saw, started filming what was happening with his camcorder.
When the land owner, David Chapel, arrived at around 9.30am he found the rare breed Jacobs sheep mixed up in the pens, some of which were cowering and seemed physically shaken, the court heard.
One of the pigs had suffered bruising and an injury to its head.
“The animals had been caused a considerable amount of distress. The animals are now less engaged as previously and he says their behaviour is out of character,” Ms Wilson said.
“One young lamb never seemed to recover from the incident. It wouldn’t go near him (Mr Chapel) or his wife or feed.
“The lamb was four months old and died some weeks later.
“It had previously been in good health,” Ms Wilson added.
Nick Clay, mitigating for Wood and Hall, told the court there was insufficient evidence to link the incident to the death of the lamb.
Mr Clay said both Wood, a fisherman, and Hall, who is currently unemployed, had been out drinking in Bridlington and were on their way back to Flamborough.
“Both drank a great deal of alcohol, both had little recollection of events themselves,” Mr Clay said.
“It was drunken and mindless behaviour. There’s no mitigation or explanation for it.
“They understand that what they have done was wrong. I think they gave little thought to what was happening.
“Having sobered up and being interviewed they were horrified to see that’s what they got up to in that state,” Mr Clay added.
Ed Cunnah, mitigating for trainee mechanic Lee, said: “It was drunken, stupid behaviour and he’s suitably ashamed.”
Mr Cunnah echoed Mr Clay’s argument about the lack of evidence to link the death of the lamb to this incident.
“There is no guarantee that that animal was one of the animals that was chased around. We are talking about a small field used by a smallholder,” he said.
Mr Cunnah told the court that the three of them were walking home to Flamborough after a night out in Bridlington when they impulsively decide to climb into the field.
“They had a couple of cans and were still drunk as they were walking and ended up, they have no idea why, climbing into the field and started messing about. That was their single impulsive act,” Mr Cunnah said.
Passing sentence presiding magistrate Sue Ackrill said the three of them should be ashamed of their actions.
“Would you really like someone to chase you in a small confined space with sticks and stones in the dark, you don’t know what’s going on, you wouldn’t would you?” Ms Ackrill said.
“These animals have continued to suffer, these animals don’t recover easily. Living in Flamborough, you’re surrounded by a farming community, there are animals around you, you should know animals are in the countryside. You do right to be ashamed,” she added.
Hall, Lee and Wood were all given 12-month community orders each, including 150 hours of unpaid work.
They were all ordered to pay court costs of £40.
Sarah Chapel, who owns the animals which were attacked along with her husband David, said: “We are disgusted that they have been given community service as a sentence, justice has not been done.
“They have pretty much got away with it. Unless custodial sentences are handed out in cases like this, there is simply no deterrent to stop attacks on animals from happening again.
“I don’t feel secure our animals are secure on our land now.
“We have had one lamb die, the shock has meant that another lamb is no use to us as a ram, and we are waiting to see if a female pig attacked, who is a rare breed, can still get pregnant.
“It is not just an attack on animals – which is bad enough – it is our livelihood.
“Because they pleaded guilty we did not get to go to court and put our side of the story across. We thought with the evidence they had, the graphic video showing what they had done, then it would have went to Crown Court for serious sentencing.”