DNA experts use forensics to track down South Yorkshire badger killers

editorial image

Three South Yorkshire men have been sentenced to 12 weeks in prison for killing a badger, after forensic experts found the animal’s DNA on their one of their clothes.

Nathan Swift, 20, and Liam Swift, 24, both of Hague Avenue, Rawmarsh along with Antonio Miguel Alonso-Brown, of Shelley Drive, Herringthorpe have been sentenced to 12 weeks in custody for killing a badger.

They had previously admitted unlawfully killing a badger at land near St John’s Road, Unstone, Derbyshire, on June 22 last year, in breach of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

This is the first time ever the badger DNA profiling technique has been used to match a dead animal to samples taken from the people who killed it. It was made possible after blood on one of the defendant’s clothing matched the DNA of the badger found dead at the scene.

Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: “This case demonstrates how modern forensic techniques can be applied to animal cruelty cases in order to catch those who might previously have evaded justice. By working closely with the Wildlife DNA Forensic unit at SASA we have been able to not only catch these men, but connect them specifically to the badger they killed.”

The court was told that a pathologist who examined the badger’s body was unable to determine whether the animal’s smashed skull, the blunt trauma injuries or the puncture wounds were the exact cause of death.

Alonso-Brown, 24, and Nathan Swift, 20, were caught by officers from Derbyshire Police as they attempted to flee the scene in a car.

Liam Swift, 24, and also of Hague Avenue, Rawmarsh, was found hiding in a nearby field after the police used thermal imaging cameras on a helicopter flying overhead.