Courts jailed a badger baiter following evidence showing “one of the worst” incidents of animal cruelty to have come to light. But various animal welfare organisations have expressed ‘disappointment’ at the sentence.


SENTENCING NEEDS TO BE DISSUASIVE

On 24 May, Ayrshire Sheriff Court handed Callum Muir a six month custodial sentence along with a lifetime ban on keeping animals. The sentence reflected scenes described by a SSPCA investigator as “one of the worst” cases of “animal welfare crimes” the organisation has ever seen.

As Keep The Ban previously reported, these included videos of Muir stamping on one fox’s head and his dogs ‘degloving’ another fox. In addition to this, Muir’s own dogs were discovered with serious injuries consistent with badger baiting. Muir had chosen not to take the dogs to vets.


In 2020, the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act came into force. It gives courts the power to hand out custodial sentences of up to five years. The SSPCA investigator involved in the case said Muir’s crimes was “among the worst” they’d ever seen. As a result, the investigator was “disappointed” with the six month sentence.

Scottish animal welfare charity OneKind echoed the SSPCA’s sentiments. Talking to Keep The Ban,  director Bob Elliot said:

“The sentencing of these cases needs to be dissuasive and we agree with the opinion of the SSPCA that the sentence… seems low for the terrible animal cruelty involved.”

Scottish paper the Daily Record explained that this was the result of how the case was handled. The paper said Muir’s offences were carried forward at a summary level. This is usually reserved for less serious offences and carry lesser sentencing potential. The Daily Record said Sheriff Siobhan Connelly, who presided over sentencing, “admitted [Muir] could have faced a far longer sentence if the Crown had decided to take the case to a higher court”.

When asked about what the sentencing says about the new Scottish law, Elliot agreed:

“We and partner organisations worked hard to get that through so it is disappointing that a case like this one didn’t go to the higher court (under indictment) which could have resulted in a greater sentence and fine.”



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