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Cooper brothers guilty of animal cruelty

Dorset men jailed for mutilating wild animals

Two men have been imprisoned for torturing animals in Dorset. Kristen Cooper, 24, and Todd Cooper, 29, both from Hampshire, were sentenced at Southampton Crown Court on 19 January.

Dorset Police investigated the two men, with assistance from their Hampshire colleagues. Police searched Kristen Cooper’s home in October 2022, seized his phone, and found incriminating videos of torturing animals, mainly at night. Dorset Police stated:

“[The videos] 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 videos were reviewed by an expert as part of the prosecution process, who described them as some of the worst cases of animal abuse he had seen in 24 years.”

Todd Cooper, meanwhile, admitted to animal cruelty after the men held down a deer while he struck the animal over the head with a blunt object.

On top of this, both men were sentenced for assault and weapons offences committed in Hampshire in March 2023, as well as various other offences, including Kristen Cooper being involved with deliberately driving a vehicle into a police car.

Kristen Cooper was sentenced to five years in prison, and was given a ten-year Criminal Behaviour Order which, according to Dorset Police:

“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.”

Todd Cooper was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison.

Just some of many depraved acts in the UK

The Coopers are, unfortunately, not the only men who take great pleasure in torturing animals. Protect the Wild regularly reports on similar incidents, usually involving hare coursing or badger baiting. Hare coursing usually involves two greyhounds chasing the hare. Bets are placed on which of the two dogs will be able to kill the hare quicker. This often results in a tug of war between the two dogs over the hare and this unsurprisingly causes immense pain and suffering to the terrified animal being ripped to pieces.

Badger baiting is where men send their terriers down a sett to find a badger and attack her, either to draw her out or hold her at bay. Once the badger is cornered by a dog, terriermen use spades to dig the poor animal out. The men then set their dogs on the badger, who will rip it up while it is still alive. The death is slow and agonising.

In the past year alone, we have reported on a list of horrifying acts:

  • In February 2023, David Hilden and Tyron Young were found guilty of trespassing with intent to course hares.
  • In March 2023, Boston magistrates found Darren Lee and Ronnie Doherty guilty of two charges of trespassing with the intent to course hares. As a result, the court handed a bill of more than £11,000 for kennelling and veterinary costs to the pair. It also handed each man £416 in fines.
  • In July 2023, four Lincolnshire men were convicted of hare coursing. The men, aged between 33 and 40, were each given four months’ suspended sentences, which meant they would escape prison for their actions.
  • In October 2023, 23-year-old ex-jockey Brandon Lawlor was jailed for eight weeks, guilty of badger baiting in a prosecution brought by the RSPCA. Footage found on his phone was described as “absolutely horrific” by the charity.
  • In December 2023, Ryan Martin, from Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire, was convicted of setting his dogs on foxes and badgers, filming the attacks to make money. Like other men before him, his desire to brag about his acts is what incriminated him.

 

Police need to take ALL wildlife crime seriously

Following this latest conviction of Kristen and Todd Cooper, Dorset Police’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick stated:

“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.”

While police do take the crimes of baiting and coursing of animals seriously, they certainly don’t spend enough time prosecuting fox hunting criminals. Dorset is known as being one of the most prolific counties in the UK for illegal fox hunting incidents. It has some of the most criminal hunts in the country, including the South Dorset Hunt – which is notorious for attacking those who monitor it, as well as for constantly hunting foxes. The county is also home to the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt, which continues to terrorise foxes. In September 2023, we reported on the hunt murdering or digging out foxes three times in one week.

  • The public will only have confidence in Dorset Police when it takes ALL wildlife crime seriously – including the criminal acts committed by illegal fox hunts.