March 2022

Ex-primary school teaching assistant filmed young child attacking wild animals with spade in ‘abhorrent day’

A former teaching assistant who encouraged a toddler to ‘bash a badger’s head in’ has been banned from keeping animals for life.

Paris Carding took children she was caring for – who cannot be named for legal reasons – on ‘abhorrent family days out’ to hunt animals.

A total of 32 clips showed Carding’s vile taunting of the animals and twisted words of encouragement to a two-year-old girl.

Her boyfriend, Grant Leigh, also taught the toddler how to brutally ‘smash’ a badger with a spade.

It was described as ‘graphic and perverse animal cruelty at its worst’

Paris Jade Carding, 28, of Fawley Grove, Wythenshawe, joined her then-boyfriend Grant Leigh Jnr, 30, of the same address, on October 24 2020.

Horrific pictures and videos were later shared on a private Facebook group – ‘The Real Terrier Men and Lurcher Men’.

They showed dogs kept by the couple – and Leigh’s father, Grant Leigh Snr, 52 – savagely attacking badgers and foxes.

These were discovered by a police wildlife crime officer following a tip-off.

Grant Snr , who was serving a suspended sentence at the time of the offences, operated as an administrator of the group where he boasted about taking his son badger baiting as a way of celebrating his recent prison release, Tameside magistrates court heard.

A joint investigation by RSPCA and Cheshire Police executed raids on October 26, and found six dogs in squalid conditions at Leigh Snr’s house on Marler Road in Hyde, and one at Carding’s who all had injuries consistent with hunting activities. Leigh Jnr’s phone was seized and messages and videos relating to the incidents were found leading to prosecution, prosecutor Hazel Stevens said.

The court was shown disturbing footage taken from the phone which showed three dogs attacking a fox while a child is heard saying: “I want to bash it again.”

Another video was then shown where Leigh Jnr is helping the youngster ‘bash’ a badger with a shovel.

In another video, taken by Carding according to the prosecution, she can be heard saying ‘they love it, bash! Bash!’.

Carding initially denied being present. A photo then showed Leigh Jnr holding a ravaged fox in a ‘trophy photo’.

Ms Stevens said: “You can clearly hear her (Carding) on the film and the enjoyment and encouragement in those parts of the film. Saying ‘bash, bash’ and ‘do you love it’ (to the child).

“She was filming and encouraging death and serious injury to badgers and dogs, putting stress on a wild animal.

“She claimed not to like dogs which may explain pleasure in tormenting them. She has shown no remorse and offered no evidence.

“They were heinous beyond belief to put a child through that no one couldn’t be shocked about the violence. It was deliberately cruel treatment of a dog and she was loving it.”

Ms Stevens added that Leigh Snr tried to justify the hunting to ‘reducing’ the badger population legally.

However, she said: “This had nothing to do with being legal. It was vile activity against wild animals and butchering them for the pleasure of hunting.

“It is not a right to own an animal it is a privilege.”

The cost of the RSPCA and police investigation came to £30,756.54, the court heard.

Leigh Jnr appeared at the hearing via a video link from HMP Altcourse after mitigation was heard for Leigh Snr and Carding. He is in prison for a separate offence and was due to be released in August 2023.

At a trial last month Carding was found guilty of five cruelty charges under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Grant Sr was found guilty of two offences under the Animal Welfare Act, and Grant Jr admitted to seven cruelty offences.

District judge, Bernard Begley, sentenced Carding to 22 weeks custody suspended for 12 months with Leigh Snr given 12 weeks suspended for 12 months. Both were ordered to pay £1,000 costs towards the investigation.

For his offences, Leigh Jnr was handed a 26 week sentence, which will be added to the prison sentence he is currently serving for different matters.

Mr Begley told the court: “It’s impossible to find any redeeming features to this case. It is graphic and perverse cruelty at its worse. There were children present and you encouraged them to inflict and injure wild animals.

“You (Leigh Jnr) were central to all that happened… This was always a case so serious that only custody could be imposed.”

Turning to Carding, Mr Begley said: “You continue to deny that you were responsible for the video but I don’t believe you.

“You were the one present who could have exerted some influence to stop what was going on but you decided to take part. Shame on you.

“You will have to live with this for the rest of your life. I believe you are capable of rehabilitation and that custody would have a huge impact on your children.

All defendants were banned from owning animals for life.