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Hedgehog cruelty charges dropped
Thursday 14th March 2019 @ 10:12 by Lauren Entwistle

Charges brought against three teenage boys accused of cruelty to hedgehogs have been dropped. 

The boys, two aged 16 and one 14, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were charged in relation to an incident that happened at Manor Park in Glossop last August when two hedgehogs were burned and killed.

The youths were charged last November under Section 41 and 32.1 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, with one boy charged with causing suffering to a protected animal, namely a hedgehog by an act, namely burning and knew or ought reasonably to have known that the act would have had that effect or be likely to do so.

The two others were charged with aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring one boy to cause unnecessary harm and suffering to a protected animal, a hedgehog, by failing to act – namely watching an aerosol can used.

News of the story sparked outrage across social media, with animal-rights charity PETA even offering a substantial reward for information following the killings.

But all three youths had pleaded not guilty to the charges at a hearing in November.

A trial was subsequently scheduled to take place on Tuesday, but according to Stockport Magistrates’ Court the case was “discontinued” on February 8 following a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service.

A spokesperson for the CPS told the Glossop Chronicle:

“This case was charged by Derbyshire police and the evidence reviewed by a specialist wildlife prosecutor at CPS East Midlands. While we understand the distress news of this incident caused locally, the CPS can only put a case in front of a court if we conclude that there is enough evidence for court to be more likely than not to convict. When all the available evidence that could be used in court was reviewed, this test was not met, and therefore the case was discontinued.”

A police spokeswoman for Derbyshire Constabulary said:

“We take all cases of wildlife crime seriously and strive to ensure that each case is thoroughly investigated. However, once charges are made in a case the decision to pursue further action falls with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

“In relation to this incident our officers carried out a full investigation into the circumstances and brought charges which were reviewed by the CPS, who deemed that there wasn’t enough evidence to secure a conviction.

“We understand that this incident was upsetting for members of the Glossop community and we would like to thank the public for their cooperation and response to our initial appeal for information.

“We rely on members of the public to come forward with information when these types of crimes occur and would urge anyone who witnesses wildlife crime to report it to us, as soon as possible, by calling 101 or via the force social media channels.”