Wildlife campaigners in court for damaging animal traps near Honiton

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A pair of wildlife campaigners have appeared in court accused of sabotaging animal traps on private land in East Devon.

Sylvia Meller and Serena Joiner appeared at Exeter Crown Court charged with criminal damage to chains, traps and snares but were not asked to enter pleas.

The case was adjourned at the request of both prosecution and defence in the hope of resolving it without a trial.

Judge Timothy Rose released both women on bail and said a trial would not be a good use of valuable court time.

Meller, aged 45, of Norman Crescent, Budleigh Salterton, and Joiner, aged 44, of Redhills, Exeter, are both charged with criminal damage

When they appeared at magistrates, they were accused of causing damage to Fenn traps belonging to gamekeeper Simon Fuller at Honiton on June 7 last year.

They were also charged with stealing Fenn traps on the same date.

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The case relates to the alleged damaging of chains attached to three traps and damage to around 35 fox snares from a tunnel at Gittisham. The value of the Fenn Mark IV traps was said to be £7 apiece.

Miss Judith Cornwall, defending, said there was an issue of whether the traps were chained in place inside the tunnel of were loose.

Judge Rose adjourned the case until August 6 to allow more discussion between the parties.

He said: “The reality is that this matter should not be using up valuable Crown Court time and trial slots. If it can be resolved in any way, I would thoroughly recommend that.”

Ms Meller is a well-known wildlife photographer and campaigner whose videos of beavers on the River Otter have been viewed thousands of times on the internet.

She has also campaigned against the government’s cull of badgers and attempts to repeal the Hunting Act and is a member of the East Devon Wounded Badger Patrol.

Her YouTube channel features films of beavers, otters, hares, hedgehogs and birds.