Five to contest baiting and cruelty charges
Five men accused of badger baiting are set to contest the charges at a special sitting of Newtownards Magistrates Court next month.
Chris Kirkwood (22) and Ryan Kirkwood (21), from Belfast, along with 40-year-old Darren Millar from Belfast, Graham Officer (42) from Donaghadee and Edward Edens (22) from Belfast, have been charged with interfering with a badger sett, unlawfully digging for badgers, causing unnecessary suffering to an animal in relation to a terrier dog and abandoning an animal.
Ryan Kirkwood has additionally been charged with resisting police.
At a sitting of Newtownards Magistrates Court yesterday, Deputy District Judge Amanda Brady ordered that two days be set aside for contest.
The men were initially charged in April 2012, and they appeared before the court on several occasions last summer
A police constable told the court then that this was "an extreme and disturbing case". She added that the USPCA said it was the worst case of animal cruelty they had seen in many years.
The men were arrested by the PSNI as part of a national police crackdown on badger baiting called Operation Meles.
The charges relate to an alleged incident on February 24, 2012.