Hartlepool dog baiter branded ‘evil’ over horrific attacks on animals

Cameron McLeod
Cameron McLeod

A DOG baiter described as “callous” by magistrates has been caged for 23 weeks after being present at horrific animal fights.

Cameron McLeod was at the scene of the disgusting animal fights where dogs were set upon badgers, a fox and a deer.

They wanted the badger to bite their dog - possibly to gain trophy-type wounds, or to give the dog a better reputation.

The 29-year-old had taken l Turn to Page 7

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videos of the cruel action on his mobile phone, which were discovered by police when they were investigating him for a separate matter.

Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court were told details and shown one of the videos by RSPCA prosecutor John Ellwood, who described McLeod as having an “unhealthy interest in setting dogs upon wild animals”.

The sickening footage showed three dogs attacking a live badger 
and being goaded on by a number of cruel thugs.

Throughout the video the men could be heard saying that they wanted the badger to bite their dog - possibly to gain trophy-type wounds, and to give the dog a better reputation when it comes to breeding them for similar activities.

Mr Ellwood said police were granted a warrant to search the defendant’s home on August 14 last year, and it was there that a female Lurcher cross bull terrier dog called Pip was found, with various cuts and scrapes to its face and legs.

After first saying it was his dog, McLeod then claimed he was looking after it for someone else.

Mr Ellwood said: “The video clips include the setting of dogs on a badger, the kicking of one of the dogs during the attack, the apparent desire of the people watching to have their dog’s face bitten.

“On one occasion a badger is alive for 10 minutes whilst it is torn apart by the dogs.

“Sadly there is also a video of the dogs attacking a deer and the deer can be heard to be crying out.

“One of the men present kicks the deer in the head while it is still alive.”

Other clips include three dogs attacking the carcass of a dead fox with its stomach ripped open.

“This is baiting,” said Mr Ellwood. “And you may think the equivalent of torture.”

McLeod pleaded guilty to six charges of being present at animal fights dated from February 2 through to April 24 last year.

Mitigating John Relton said his client was in no way the “ringleader” in the baiting.

He said: “He was not the ring leader here, but he was certainly present when it went on.

“This sentencing couldn’t have come at a worse time as his brother is on a life support and the time limit for his improvement expires today.

“One must have sympathy for his personal issues.”

He added: “He apologises for his involvement and there will be no repetition.”

Chairman of the bench Stephen Hall said: “Sadly I have had to watch one of the most shocking videos, that I as a magistrate, have ever had to watch.

“Your actions are quite frankly evil and the torture of an animal for self gratification is sickening.

“From the probation report you’ve minimised the acts that you’ve been involved with, with no concern, regard, emotion, or remorse.

“You are a callous individual.”

Mr Hall added: “Understand this, for anyone else involved in this kind of activity, it is completely unacceptable and it will not be tolerated by the people of Hartlepool or by the wider Teesside area.

“If we could have sent you to custody for longer then we surely would have.

“Thankfully most people in this area are certainly not reflected by the actions of this individual. I would like to thank the RSPCA for their excellent work in this case. It is absolutely admirable what you do.”

McLeod, of Annandale Crescent, Hartlepool, was jailed for 23 weeks and was also banned from keeping animals for life, and cannot apply for that to be reviewed for 15 years.

Speaking after the hearing RSPCA Inspector Clare Wilson said in the five years she has been doing the job it is certainly “one of the worst cases” she has seen.

And she was concerned about the rising trend for animal baiting in Hartlepool and the surrounding area.

“It’s been a very distressing case to deal with,” she said. “It’s worrying because it’s increasing and we are getting to hear about it a lot more.

“It seems to be an increasing trend for young people in Hartlepool and the area, some see it as a hobby.”

She urged anyone who hears of any kind of animal baiting to contact police on 101 or the RSPCA on 0300 1234999.

Extracts of a transcript of the sickening video read:

Male A: “Good lass, get on Pip, that’s what I want it to do to mine.

“I want it to hurt mine.

“Pull that black dog off and let mine have it’s face.”

Male C: “Can I get my dog on it’s face?”

Male A: “Wait there I want mine bit.”

In another section of the transcript Male C says: “They’ve killed it.”

Male A: “They haven’t you know.

“Yeah bite my dog’s face, bite my dog’s face, go on.”

Male C: “Are you sure that’s dead that. Er it’s still shaking man.”

Later a man identified as Male B shouts: “Shake it lassie. Get it lassie, get it kill it lassie. Kill it lassie.

“Let her shake it.”