Local trainer may face criminal charges over live baiting
A PROMINENT North Coast greyhound trainer may face criminal charges after he was secretly recorded by animal activists engaged in the banned practice of live baiting.
John Thompson of Shannon Brook, south west of Casino, featured on Monday night's ABC Four Corners episode Making A Killing which aired footage across three states of trainers tying possums, pigs and rabbits to lures to "blood" their dogs.
The baited animals undergo severe stress before being mauled to death.
Across Victoria, Queensland and NSW at least 23 trainers have been suspended over the allegations pending an investigation by the states' racing regulators.
Mr Thompson was recorded encouraging staff at a private Queensland training track to smash a baby possum's head in so the live baiting of its mother could begin, while also discussing inhumane methods for disposing of dead dogs' bodies.
But in an interview with the ABC reporter, he vehemently denied the practice took place saying 'that's crap… you don't do that; that's years ago."
He could now face up to five years in jail and a $22,000 fine if found guilty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Mr Thompson did not return calls yesterday.
Mr Thompson and another former local, Stephen Sherwell, will be investigated by Racing QLD for their involvement at a track in the Lockyer Valley west of Ipswich and Toowoomba, owned by esteemed trainer Tom Noble, where the live baiting took place.
RSPCA Queensland raided the property last week.
RSPCA Qld CEO Mark Townend said the footage suggested the practice was "deeply entrenched and probably widespread" despite the industry maintaining the practice had been stamped out.
Mr Townend said the practice displayed an "appalling lack of compassion".
"The pictures and the audio point to the fact that blooding is basically regarded as essential to produce a winning dog."
Greyhound Racing NSW chief steward Clint Bentley said even Mr Thompson's presence on the track during a live baiting session regardless of the level of his involvement was grounds for suspension.
Chief executive of GRNSW Brent Hogan said those found guilty should be banned for life.
"Animal cruelty is unacceptable and anyone found guilty of a cruelty is not welcome."