A gang of sick thugs beat badgers to death with shovels and allowed dogs to tear the terrified animals to shreds, a court heard.

Vile Tristan Asbury, 18, Kaider Tariq, 22, Luke Lowther, 26, and Nathan Niland, 26, filmed themselves terrorising the defenceless animals in sickening videos where they laughed along as the badgers squealed in pain.

Heart-wrenching footage played to Bradford Magistrates’ Court, West Yorks., shows the gang in woodland on January 18, 2015.

In the footage, Lowther can be seen digging into a badger set and pulling out a badger before continuing to dig into the hole, alongside a dog, before pulling out a second badger a short time later.

The court could hear throughout the distressing video the sound of the badger squealing in pain and terror while there was barking and growling from the dogs.

Later on, Asbury, Tariq and Niland are seen kicking the badger, while Lowther hits it with a shovel.

Nilan is also spotted holding one of the badgers at one end while it is savaged by dogs at the other end.

Both Tariq and Asbury are seen posing, holding up one of the badgers like a trophy, while it is badly injured but still alive.

Tariq is also caught in the footage kicking the badger and stamping on its head.

Andrew Davidson, prosecuting, said: “These offences are clearly captured on camera footage.

“The footage shows the defendants gaining significant enjoyment from what they are doing.

“There was no remorse expressed on behalf of the defendants expect the need to go out and repeat the cruelty.”

Mr Davidson added the gang had gone to “extreme lengths to carry out cruelty to animals who were overwhelmed by bigger, more powerful and numerous adversaries.”

Mr Davidson said Tariq, Asbury and Nilan had filmed themselves badger baiting a week later on January 25, 2015, where a badger was once again viciously torn apart by dogs on film.

The court also saw footage where Tariq set dogs on a domestic pet rabbit, allowing the hounds to brutally kill it.

Mr Davidson said: “A vet who analysed the footage said the rabbit would not know what to do in that situation.

“Its prolonged, painful suffering was unnecessary.

“When you see the footage you will be disgusted by the way the rabbit is attacked by one dog in particular.”

The court heard a green Jeep Cherokee, driven by Tariq, was stopped near York, North Yorks., on January 25, the day the gang filmed themselves badger baiting for the second time, with Niland and Asbury and six dogs also in the car.

An Instagram page in Tariq’s name was discovered to contain images of animal cruelty, including a fox being savaged by a dog.

When first interviewed by police, Tariq said he was pro-animal hunting and fighting but denied he had joined in with any other those activities.

However police searched his home and found a mobile phone which contained videos of the rabbit and badgers being killed.

Asbury told police he didn’t think the badgers were suffering because there was no sign of suffering.

When asked by police how he would feel if he was attacked in this way, Asbury replied he would “laugh” and “run off”.

Saftar Salam, mitigating for Asbury and Lowther said: “There is no doubt this is barbaric and abhorrent.

“My two defendants were thoroughly ashamed when they watched the footage and understand the way they behaved was unacceptable and disrespectful.”

Kevin Watson, for Tariq, told the court the incidents were “truly abhorrent acts” and his client had been “idiotic” as a result of peer pressure.

Clive Rees, for Niland, said defendants who film themselves committing crimes should get “six months for stupidity”, but urged magistrates to make an exception in his case and not send his client straight to prison.

All four defendants, from Bradford, West Yorks., admitted offences relating to the killing of badgers at a previous hearing.

Tariq also admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a rabbit by setting dogs on it as well as failing to provide treatment for a condition called ‘bumble-foot’.

Niland previously pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of two Lurcher type dogs in his care at an earlier court hearing.

The court will be sentenced this afternoon (Thurs).

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