Man who videoed “gruesome” animal cruelty incidents including badger baiting jailed

A man who videoed “gruesome” animal cruelty incidents including badger baiting has been jailed.

Jason Lee Kennedy, 36 and from Marble Arch Road in Enniskillen, previously denied causing suffering to badgers and cats through baiting and fighting which he recorded and supplied to others, at one stage contending it was a form of vermin control.

The extent of the cruelty was uncovered following a PSNI swoop.

He later changed his plea and appeared in the dock of Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Newry, on Friday for sentencing having admitted three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals, two involving a cat and the other a badger, as well as three counts of causing animal fights to take place.

Police at the time confirmed Kennedy was arrested in the Derrylin area of Fermanagh in March 2023 when a number of dogs were also seized as part of the investigation. Prosecution counsel Simon Reid KC set out the incidents which were captured on 12 videos while Judge Fiona Bagnall, shook her head.

Much of the details are too distressing to report however in basic terms a number of cats were mauled to death after being put into pens with groups of dogs. In another a badger was “dragged by a rope” into a pen where nine dogs set about a vicious attack. The badger is heard squealing in pain “yet no-one sought to intervene at any time”.

All animals used in baiting were either mauled to death or severely injured, and some of the dogs also had extensive wounds sustained through fighting. Defence counsel Ciaran Roddy conceded the case was of high culpability and Kennedy no longer keeps any animals, nor would he take issue with any court order banning this.

He said: “I’m not for one second trying to explain the defendant’s conduct away. It was clearly appalling. He has moved away from the offending in which he was embroiled. At the time he was marred by drug and alcohol abuse, his personal relationships had broken down as did his mental health. However he remains committed to his children.”

The defence noted the “depravity” of the offending but urged against imprisonment as Kennedy, “does have previous issues and could rekindle his behaviour if jailed”.

Judge Bagnall said: “This is a disturbing case of the most cruel type. The violence was gratuitous and the animals clearly suffered prolonged agonising deaths. The outcome was pre-determined and the defendant knew exactly what would happen. These were planned gatherings. I find it impossible to understand how any human being could set up the circumstances for such cruelty on helpless animals.”

She added: “He also videoed the gruesome incidents to show his friends which further demonstrates everything about his behaviour is repugnant. I reject his claim this behaviour was a form of vermin control as he claimed cats kill pheasants and badgers carry TB. It was instead some distorted view of a sadistic and cruel sport. I do not have to set out just how badly those poor animals suffered.”

Judge Bagnall imposed a sentence of two years and three months and banned Kennedy from owning any animal for 10 years. The sentence was split half and half between jail time and licence.

The PSNI’s Rural and Wildlife Crime lead, Superintendent McDowell outlined how Kennedy was caught.

She said: “On 22nd April 2022, it was reported to police that there were dogs in a distressed state at a property in the Ross Road area of Bellanaleck. Local officers from Erne West Neighbourhood policing team responded to the report, they firstly observed two dogs inside kennels with substantial wounds to their muzzles and face. As part of the investigation a third dog was located nearby with fresh wounds to its face and it was believed at that stage that the dogs had been involved in fighting.

“All three dogs were seized by officers and Mr Kennedy was arrested for causing unnecessary suffering to animals and fighting offences. The dogs were consequently taken into care before being rehomed. Phones were seized and during forensic analyses videos identified included cruelty to cats.

“Mr Kennedy pleaded guilty to the offences in April and has subsequently been sentenced to a 13 and a half month prison sentence and 13 and half months on licence along with a ten year ban from keeping animals. We very much welcome the court’s decision today to convict Mr Kennedy for the brutality inflicted on these animals, and I commend the work carried out by our wildlife department and Local officers from Erne West Neighbourhood policing team and legal services department, to bring this individual to justice for fighting offences.

“This case not only demonstrates the commitment we, as a police service have in tackling wildlife crime, but also the fighting offences committed, which police take very seriously, and we have a responsibility to protect animals from any unnecessary suffering, whilst investigating all reports of organised criminality and abuse.

“If you or anyone you know is concerned about dogs or animals of any kind involved in fighting offences and being harmed, we would ask that you contact police on the non-emergency number 101, or submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/.”

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