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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on July 24, 2002 at 13:43:57:
BBC (London, UK) 23 July 02 Teenage boys 'mutilated' toads
A court has heard how two teenage boys used garden shears to mutilate dozens of toads.
The pair collected about 40 of the animals from a lake and took them to a garage to butcher them.
A 14-year-old boy pleaded guilty at Maidenhead Magistrates' Court to jointly causing unnecessary suffering to six toads.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of a 16-year-old boy who has subsequently moved to Eire and could not afford to attend Tuesday's hearing.
A neighbour of the boys said she had become suspicious after seeing them carrying toads to a pond in a garden at the rear of her house.
She also said she had heard the pair laughing and joking in a nearby garage.
Prosecutor for the RSPCA David Smith said police and animal welfare inspectors were greeted with a scene of carnage in the garage.
He said: "When they looked in, in the right-hand corner they could see fresh blood splashed on the floor and various parts of what they thought at the time were frogs.
"There were a large number of toads, some in distress, and some had heads or legs missing."
A plastic tray was found containing 20 dead toads while others were discovered dumped in the pond.
Numerous other toads were found almost cut in half, but some were still moving, Mr Smith said.
Six survived and the others had to be put down by a vet.
The boys had admitted in an interview they had taken the toads from the lake in a bowl.
But they claimed that when the animals started to jump around they tried to move them to the pond using sharp garden tools.
Magistrates' chairman Jean Barnard said: "I cannot believe that it was totally innocent and that it was an accident.
"It was a very gruesome, absolutely dreadful thing to do."
The 14-year-old, who along with his co-accused cannot be named, was sentenced to an eight-month referral order and ordered to pay costs of £398.
After the hearing RSPCA Inspector Derek Wilkins said: "I hope this sends out a clear message that all wildlife is protected and the RSPCA will strive to do everything to enforce that."