**Warning, distressing video at the bottom of the article**

A Penryn man whose dog chased and attacked a deer as he encouraged it, while filming the incident, has been prosecuted by the RSPCA. 

Sampson Richards, aged 28, of Lestraynes Lane, Penryn, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Deer Act 1991 after an investigation by the RSPCA ended in court. 

Concerns had been raised with the animal welfare charity after video clips showing a 13-month-old beige saluki cross lurcher named Butch had been posted on a Facebook group.

One of the videos shared with the RSPCA showed Butch chasing and bringing down a young deer.

The clip shows a light emitted from a “lamping” type light which is being trained on a deer who is being pursued by Butch.

Throughout the clip Richards can be heard repeatedly encouraging his dog by saying “Get on Butch” as the light continues to be held on the deer enabling Butch to continue chasing.

Once Butch has caught the deer, the video-maker shouts “keep hold” to his dog before the deer gives agonised screams indicating fear, terror, and pain.

The video then shows Butch holding the deer in his mouth as Richards says “good boy” to praise his dog.

Butch then shakes the deer vigorously and the deer screams twice again. “Good boy” is said again before Butch leans backwards still holding the deer and yanks it forwards again as he moves backwards.

The video closes with the person filming saying: “It’s good for you to be able to see this”.

A vet, who examined the footage as part of the RSPCA investigation, said in their statement for the court: “The duration of the video was 73 seconds long, however this would not have represented the whole duration of the incident.

"I expect that the footage was started after the person in the video had realised that his dog was in pursuit.

“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.

“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.

“The dog was actively encouraged and helped to chase and attack the deer and clearly praised for his activities by the person making the video.

“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.

“There was no evidence that the deer was to be swiftly and humanely dispatched, in the likelihood that it was too badly injured to be taken to a vet for first aid treatment.

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"We have no idea how long the total chase went on for? We have no idea how long before the deer was euthanased? We have no idea whether the person making the video let the dog kill the dog, presumably by ripping its throat apart, or whether the person shot it or cut its throat himself?

"One thing that we can be sure of is that the deer suffered terribly.

“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. Thankfully it is extremely unusual to hear a deer vocalise. It is without doubt that this deer suffered terribly.”

Richards was sentenced to a 12-month community order when he appeared before Bodmin Magistrates Court on March 21. He must carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £400 costs and £114 surcharge.

The court also ordered the forfeiture and confiscation of the lamping lamp. Butch was signed over into the care of the RSPCA for rehoming at an earlier court hearing.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “We share our space with wildlife and need to show respect and kindness. Animals feel pain, just as we do, and we’re appealing to everyone to show care and consideration to all animals.”

The full charge against Richards read: That on or about November 21, 2022 in the vicinity of Liberty Barn, Lestraynes Lane, Penryn, Cornwall, or elsewhere within the jurisdiction, you did, while on any land, attempt to take, kill or injure any deer without the consent of the owner or occupier of the land or other lawful authority, contrary to Section 1 (2)(a) of the Deer Act 1991.