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Men cleared of digging for badgers; 'I've gone through hell'.

Byline: DAVID POWELL

TWO men accused of digging for badgers were yesterday cleared of all charges by a judge.

Keith Williams and friend Dennis Dwayne Williams, both 31, had denied the offence and also pleaded not guilty to attempting to take a badger and interfering with badger setts in a field at Betws Bach, Ynys, Criccieth, on April 3 last year.

The men had gone for a walk with two lurchers and two terriers.

Farmer Bleddyn Jones and his wife Anwen had heard a "frenzy" of noise and spotted the men and dogs in their field without permission.

Mr Jones went "ballistic", noted the registration number of Keith's Vauxhall Astra van nearby and alerted police.

Llandudno Magistrates Court heard that police acting on intelligence called later at Keith's bungalow in Bethel Road, Caernarfon.

They found two books about hunting, an electronic terrier finder and staples for treating animal wounds. PC Dewi Evans told the court he also found a lurcher with mouth injuries.

Dennis turned up to use Keith Williams' gym and, as he fitted a description given by Mr Jones, was arrested.

But Keith Williams insisted he knew nothing about a badger sett and had simply been "educating" his two six-month-old terriers about the sights and sounds of the countryside, and looking for rabbits.

Under cross examination, Keith Williams, who had once been to the field as a follower in a pre-ban fox hunt, told prosecutor Peter Jones he had no intention of putting young dogs down a fox or badger hole.

He said: "It's like putting a seven-year-old in a ring with Mike Tyson."

He added: "They barely had new teeth. The dogs are immature.

You would dent its confidence if it got hurt by a fox or mauled by a badger."

He had been looking for rabbits.

The prosecutor asked why choose such a remote area and Keith Williams replied: "There are so many people hunting rabbits in Caernarfon, there are no rabbits in Caernarfon."

He said the mouth injury and noise arose when his terrier puppy attacked his nine-year-old lurcher.

His solicitor Clive Rees claimed there were "inconsistencies" in Mr Jones' evidence. Dennis Williams, of Llys Tryfan, Caernarfon, told his barrister Anna Pope he was asleep in bed after a night out and never visited the field.

District Judge Andrew Shaw found the defendants not guilty of all charges after a two-day trial.

After the case, Keith Williams said: "I and my family have gone through hell because of the police.

It's not fair."

Sergeant Rob Taylor, North Wales Police wildlife and environmental crime officer, said: "We will continue to thoroughly investigate any allegations which come to our attention."

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Dennis Williams (left) and Keith Williams (right) have been cleared of all charges after being accused of digging for badgers
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 26, 2012
Words:465
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