deer coursing

Sadist incriminates himself filming his dog killing deer

Yet another man has been prosecuted after encouraging his dog to torture and kill a wild animal, filming the whole sick event, and posting it on social media.

28-year-old Sampson Richards, from Penryn, Cornwall, pleaded guilty on 21 March to attempting to take, kill or injure a deer without lawful authority – an offence under the Deer Act 1991.

The RSPCA investigated Richards after he posted videos to a Facebook group. One video shows the man’s dog Butch, a saluki cross lurcher, chasing a young deer then bringing her down. Richards uses a lamping light to highlight the deer. He is repeatedly heard in the video saying to the dog, “Get on Butch!” And once Butch has caught the deer, Richards says, “keep hold,” while the deer screams in pain and fear. Butch is filmed shaking the deer hard as she screams more.

A vet said in a statement to the court:

This extremely distressful video shows the illegal coursing of a deer by a lurcher. ‘Lamping’ refers to the usage of a specialised torch to enable the pursuit. Such a light was later found at the premises of Sampson Richards.”

When the footage ended the deer was clearly still alive, we cannot say how long before the poor creature was put out of its pain, nor what method was used for this. Hence, the incident was probably far longer than the duration of the video.

The vet continued:

The deer was terrified and afraid and suffered great pain and distress. At no time did the person try to stop the chase. No attempt was made to pull the dog off the deer whilst the person was standing right over it.

“Unlike animals such as dogs, horses, cattle and sheep, deer do not vocalise under normal circumstances, only when they are terrified or in pain or during the mating season… It is without doubt that this deer suffered terribly.”

Richards received a paltry punishment of a 12-month community order when he appeared before Bodmin Magistrates Court. He must carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £400 costs and £114 surcharge.

Butch was signed over into the care of the RSPCA for rehoming at an earlier court hearing.


Filming their criminal acts

We are seeing a trend of men filming gruesome acts like this on their phones. And it’s often been the compulsion to brag about their exploits on social media that has landed them in court.

Other incidents include:

  • In December 2023, Ryan Martin from Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to three dogs under his care and to keeping or training dogs for the purposes of animal fights. He set his dogs on foxes and badgers, filming the attacks and posting them on both TikTok and Snapchat to make money.
  • In October 2023, ex-jockey Brandon Lawlor was found guilty of badger baiting. Footage found on his phone was described as “absolutely horrific” by the RSPCA.
  • In November 2022, we reported on masked-up groups in Norfolk, who were setting their dogs on badgers. The gangs were reported to be livestreaming their kills so that viewers could bet on the outcome of the fights between the badgers and the dogs.


On top of this, we regularly report on more incidents of badger baiting – such as the two brothers who bludgeoned a badger to death with a spade. Disgracefully, the sentencing for inflicting cruelty on our wildlife is pitiful. While Richards received a community order, with barely a punishment at all, Lawlor was imprisoned for just eight weeks.

We unreservedly applaud the efforts of the men and women who work so hard to bring these sadists to court (the images they have to watch must live with them for years afterwards!), but while sentencing guidelines are so minimal we will continue to see men like these repeatedly abusing and persecuting animals.

In 2022 the police gained greater powers to prosecute hare coursers under new legislation. While it is welcome news that police and the CPS are taking a greater interest in cracking down on hare coursers, this isn’t enough. We need to see our criminal justice system taking all wildlife crime seriously – whether it be baiting, coursing, or hunting.

Featured image via RSPCA.