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Crime: Two convicted after drunken dip with celebrity dolphin

Contributed by editor on Apr 17, 2008 - 09:52 PM

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Two men were found guilty today (17 April) of harassing a local celebrity dolphin during a booze-fuelled late-night swim in the English Channel.

Michael Jukes, 27, and Daniel Buck, 26, were found guilty of intentionally or recklessly disturbing a wild animal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Dover magistrates court heard how the pair had "touched and stroked" Dave the dolphin as they went for a late-night swim at Sandgate, in June last year.

Buck admitted being pulled along by the dolphin by grabbing hold of its dorsal fin and Jukes said he had stroked its belly.

A witness told the court that one of them shouted: "People pay hundreds of pounds to do this in Florida and I'm doing it in Folkestone".

Presiding magistrate, John Offord, said a number of experts confirmed the dolphin's normal pattern of behaviour was disturbed and troubled by the defendants' actions in the sea.

In summing up, Offord said the defendants had refused to leave the water even when police ordered them to, and that they had admitted being drunk in interview.

He described the pair's actions as those of "recklessness", rather than an intentional effort to disturb the dolphin.

They were ordered to complete 120 hours of work in the community within the next 12 months, and pay £350 each in costs.