Pair who caused suffering to wildlife jailed for 'worst animal abuse' expert had ever seen

Kristen and Todd Cooper have been jailed for a total of eight years and three months. Credit: Dorset Police

Warning: This article contains distressing content.

Two men who caused unnecessary suffering to deers and hares in rural Dorset, encouraging dogs to attack them, have been jailed for a total of more than eight years.

Kristin Cooper and Todd Cooper's cruel actions have been described by an expert as some of the worst cases of animal abuse he had seen in 24 years.

Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team launched an investigation with support from colleagues in Hampshire in October 2022.

A warrant was executed at Kristen Cooper's address in Bransgore in Hampshire. Officers seized the defendant’s phone and on it they found several videos showing the defendants causing unnecessary suffering to animals, mainly in rural areas at night.

They showed Cooper causing suffering to injured deer and hares and in some cases encouraging dogs to attack them. There were also videos showing wildlife with injuries suggesting they had been mutilated.

The 24-year-old received a total prison sentence of five years. He was made the subject of a ten-year Criminal Behaviour Order which includes conditions preventing him from being in possession of a catapult and from being on agricultural or farmland between the hours of 12am and 6am. He was also banned from owning a dog for a period of ten years.

His co-defendant Todd Cooper, aged 29 and of Sway in Hampshire, was sentenced to a total of three years and eight months after admitting an offence which involved him and Kristen Cooper holding down a deer while he struck it over the head with a blunt object. 

Police found Kristen Cooper and Tood cooper has been causing unnecessary suffering to animals, mainly in rural areas of Dorset at night. Credit: ITV Meridian

Police Constable Sebastian Haggett, of Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team, said “Kristen and Todd Cooper have today been sentenced following a proactive investigation led by Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team and assisted by colleagues from Hampshire.

“This investigation has uncovered a large number of offences which targeted both our rural communities and wildlife.

"Cooper repeatedly subjected animals to horrific levels of pain and suffering, seemingly for his own and others’ amusement. These are without doubt some of the most horrifying offences I have ever investigated.

“We will continue to work with our partner forces and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure offenders are held to account.”

Inspector Darren Ord, from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary said: “This was a lengthy investigation which has showcased excellent partnership working between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Constabulary and Dorset Police.

“These horrific crimes have caused a great deal of harm and suffering, and we are pleased that these crimes have been recognised with this sentencing and the offenders have been brought to justice.

“We take reports of rural crime extremely seriously and our officers will continue to work with partners to show criminals that offences of this kind will not be tolerated in Hampshire, or across our borders.”

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Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick said: “I’d like to thank every officer and partner agency involved in this investigation. To bring such a prolific offender to justice is very reassuring. Kristen Cooper has committed deplorable and sickening acts of cruelty as well as offences that strike at the heart of our rural community and I am pleased to see that he has received this sentence from the court today.

“I hope this sends a clear message that Dorset Police takes all rural crime, including wildlife crime, seriously and will be reassured to know that cross border, inter-agency, partnership working will continue and will grow as we strive to make Dorset the safest county.”

Angharad Thomas, CPS Wessex Wildlife Lead, said: “This was a shocking case, involving unimaginable violence and cruelty to animals on a level that I have, thankfully, rarely seen before.

“Working closely with the Rural Crime Team throughout, we were able to make sure we had all the evidence we needed for a strong prosecution case, ensuring that these defendants faced justice for their cruelty and absolute disregard for protected animals.”