Ringleader of gang jailed for offences against wildlife

41-year-old Graham Coombes from Bovey Tracey has been sentenced to 20 weeks with £3,000 costs for wildlife crimes. He's also been banned from keeping dogs for life,

He was among 11 men from Devon, Somerset, Dorset and South Wales in Plymouth Magistrates Court for sentencing after pleading guilty or being found guilty of offences against animals.

22 relate to the unlawful killing of wildlife, four to offences of neglect to dogs and one offence is under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

A large number of videos have been shown by the RSPCA which has brought the prosecution. The videos show caged foxes being baited and then ripped apart by dogs. Attacks on badgers and deer were also shown.

*Warning: Upsetting footage*

  • Watch one of the mobile phone videos seized: a caged fox being baited by three dogs

The videos were recovered from a mobile phone belonging to Graham Coombes. After a car chase, which ended outside Chudleigh police station, he threw his mobile into a hedge. The RSPCA say it is clear from hundreds of texts and pictures that he was key in co-ordinating attacks on wildlife. The group used social media to spread the news about their gory events.

The RSPCA says the men organised the digging out of badgers and enjoyed causing prolonged suffering to animals. The court heard one badger dig took four hours.

  • Judge: If I could send you to prison for one year I would but I can't do that.

Graham Coombes has been jailed and banned from keeping dogs Credit: South West News

In sentencing Coombes at Plymouth Magistrates Court, District Judge Diana Baker said: