Hunt saboteur John Gill was back behind bars today after his latest courtroom protest.

The veteran animal rights campaigner was locked up for 14 days after refusing to pay a fine for damaging traps.

He told magistrates in Durham City he would not pay as a matter of principle and was jailed.

Gill, 56, of Castleside, Consett, was found guilty in February of damaging animal traps on a Northumberland estate last August.

Magistrates at Hexham gave him a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £223.50 in compensation and £75 towards court costs.

He refused to pay and insisted: “I have no intention whatsoever of paying and fully intend to go to jail rather than do so.”

He told magistrates: “On a point of principle I’m not going to pay. I’m opposed to cruelty to animals. There should be a change in the law.”

He then showed them a photo of a badger with its neck caught in a trap.

At his original hearing at Hexham, the court heard perfectly legal traps had been damaged by Gill.

The court was told Gill considered the snares to be illegal because they caught animals indiscriminately.

Paul Anderson, head gamekeeper of Bywell Estates in Allendale, said the traps and snares had been laid for pest control and to ensure a surplus of game on shoot days.

But he said in August he discovered rabbit control boxes, spring-type fen traps for killing stoats and weasels and snares for catching foxes had been damaged. The damaged snares were legal, free-running and designed to hold the animal.

Last October, Gill went to the police and confessed to damaging traps on the Bywell estate between August 22-24.

Gill has now been jailed five times in the last 10 years for his protests.

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