Animal cruelty suspects arrested in Darlington dawn raids

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Darlington)


FIVE teenagers were arrested in dawn raids this morning as part of the largest investigation into animal cruelty ever to take place in Darlington.

A team of 19 RSPCA officers and more than 40 police officers from across County Durham carried out the raids as part of Operation Merlin following four months of investigating and intelligence gathering by the RSPCA and Durham Police.

Simultaneous raids were sprung at 7am today on properties in the Firthmoor area of Darlington, and the men, four aged 18 and one aged 19, were arrested for offences under the Animal Welfare Act and are currently in custody.

One was also arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis at his home, while a sixth man was arrested for possession of cannabis.

Eight dogs – two Labradors and six Lurchers – were seized and have been taken into RSPCA custody. Two of the dogs were found to be living in squalor, while one was found with a tear wound and skin loss.

The joint operation, which was led by RSPCA Inspector Garry Palmer and Chief Inspector Chris Reeves of Darlington police, took place following a number of reports from the public of dogs being used to hunt and kill wildlife, livestock and domestic pets in the Darlington area.

Insp Palmer said: “These are not your normal poachers, they are criminals. There is a network of about 25, but the net is slowly closing in on them.

“It is sadistic and they will kill anything; foxes, badgers, sheep, cats and deer. They are not treating their own dogs’ injuries either - it is a miserable life these dogs have got.”

Mobile phones, computers and paraphernalia associated with hunting were also seized in the raids.

RSPCA Chief Inspector Mark Gent said: “A number of exhibits were seized and we are looking into these and doing further investigations.

“Where we have evidence that offences have taken place we will take action to bring the individuals involved before a court.

"I hope this sends a message to anyone involved in this kind of deliberate, abhorrent cruelty – we are actively seeking you and the next knock on the door could be us.”

Deputy Chief Constable Michael Banks said the force is committed to protecting its rural communities and tackling rural crime.

He said: "Animal welfare is an issue at the heart of those communities and we hope that this morning’s raids reassure people that activities involving animal cruelty will not be tolerated.”

Comments (10)

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11:04am Wed 7 Nov 12

paris1 says...

lock the scum up, or even worse make them get a job!
lock the scum up, or even worse make them get a job! paris1
  • Score: 26

12:19pm Wed 7 Nov 12

Magic Steve says...

It's about time action is being taken.
Lets hope they get more than a slap on the wrist!
It's about time action is being taken. Lets hope they get more than a slap on the wrist! Magic Steve
  • Score: 24

3:11pm Wed 7 Nov 12

Daza says...

No doubt these Scum have nothing better to do with their miserable lives !

Congrats to RSPCA and the Police for disrupting these miserable low life SCUM!
No doubt these Scum have nothing better to do with their miserable lives ! Congrats to RSPCA and the Police for disrupting these miserable low life SCUM! Daza
  • Score: 19

11:45am Thu 8 Nov 12

Lifetime Townie says...

Congrats to RSPCA and the Police for disrupting these sick idiots. They must hink it great to do what they have done. Well worthy of a 10 year jail sentence in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
Congrats to RSPCA and the Police for disrupting these sick idiots. They must hink it great to do what they have done. Well worthy of a 10 year jail sentence in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 11

4:51pm Thu 8 Nov 12

drainman says...

Nice on RSPCA, but i'm sure we will al be disapointed in the sentencing of the scum, a few hours community service or a small fine to be apd over ten years. Plus they'll only go out and have bought another dog by the end of next week.
Nice on RSPCA, but i'm sure we will al be disapointed in the sentencing of the scum, a few hours community service or a small fine to be apd over ten years. Plus they'll only go out and have bought another dog by the end of next week. drainman
  • Score: 8

10:19pm Thu 8 Nov 12

nanaboys4 says...

these scum need to be treated like they treated this poor animals they need prison not fineing and never allowed to have and animals for life the RSPCA did a great job .
these scum need to be treated like they treated this poor animals they need prison not fineing and never allowed to have and animals for life the RSPCA did a great job . nanaboys4
  • Score: 6

12:49am Fri 9 Nov 12

crazy lady says...

I hope to see this kind of effort in cracking down on this kind of criminal activity in sunderland too as i and neighbours have lost pets to this criminal activity too
I hope to see this kind of effort in cracking down on this kind of criminal activity in sunderland too as i and neighbours have lost pets to this criminal activity too crazy lady
  • Score: 4

8:40am Fri 9 Nov 12

Andie68 says...

Put the scum in a field with a pack of hyped up hungry dogs and lets see how fast the idiots can run!
Or join the army and fight for your country! Hunters? They haven't got a clue. Bunch of wasters!
Put the scum in a field with a pack of hyped up hungry dogs and lets see how fast the idiots can run! Or join the army and fight for your country! Hunters? They haven't got a clue. Bunch of wasters! Andie68
  • Score: 6

6:31pm Fri 9 Nov 12

babybrandy says...

Makes me so angry to read of animals been mistreated, i know what i'd like to personally do to those teenagers, it makes my blood boil.Well done RSPCA for rescuing those beautiful animals and i hope they eventually find loving homes
Makes me so angry to read of animals been mistreated, i know what i'd like to personally do to those teenagers, it makes my blood boil.Well done RSPCA for rescuing those beautiful animals and i hope they eventually find loving homes babybrandy
  • Score: 1

7:26pm Fri 9 Nov 12

drainman says...

What you have to remember is that these people are as thick as ****, scruffy, lazy and ill educated, their dogs are more intelligent than the worthless tossers. They get there benefits, steal whatever they want and scrounge of the rest of us. The RSPCA should revisit them and put them to sleep.
What you have to remember is that these people are as thick as ****, scruffy, lazy and ill educated, their dogs are more intelligent than the worthless tossers. They get there benefits, steal whatever they want and scrounge of the rest of us. The RSPCA should revisit them and put them to sleep. drainman
  • Score: 4

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