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Men await sentencing after Marwell incident

TWO MEN from Fareham will be sentenced in January 2023 after the pair pleaded guilty to criminal damage charge following an incident at Marwell Zoo early last year; two others further walking away from Winchester Crown Court last Thursday (December 22) after seeing their not guilty pleas accepted by legal prosecutors.

As reported in the Globe at the time; both armed and unarmed officers were called to the scene based near Winchester on the evening of February 15, 2021 following reports of break-ins. Using night vision equipment they established that several items, including glass bottles, had been thrown into the large giraffe enclosure.

Video footage was shared through social media showing many items being thrown at a giraffe’s head, whilst a tiger was kicked at after being encouraged to approach the fence. It is reported that approximately £2,000 worth of damage was caused by the incident, with the resulting repair work taking up to four weeks to finish.

After eighteen months of investigations, four people were charged back in August and appeared in a hearing at Basingstoke Magistrates Court on September 15. The four names were 23 year-old Bradley Green and 21 year-old Nathan Daniels from Fareham; along with 23 year-olds Coral Lock and Jason Huggitt from Gosport.

In a scheduled hearing held on Thursday, Green pleaded guilty to the criminal damage of a giraffe enclosure; adding to a guilty plea of causing unnecessary suffering to a giraffe in the same incident. Meanwhile Daniels also admitted a charge of criminal damage for damaging the zoo’s perimeter fences and penguin enclosures.

The pair were released on bail awaiting sentencing on January 19 next year after both guilty pleas; the judge asking for a pre-sentence to be prepared before this date. They will however not face the charge of burglary with intent to damage after entering not guilty pleas on Thursday; which were both accepted by prosecutors.

Huggitt further entered not guilty pleas for offences of burglary with the intent to commit criminal damage and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, whilst Lock pleaded not guilty to assisting the offenders after the incident. All of these pleas were accepted by prosecutors and both were allowed to leave the court.

The pair will not face any further criminal charges with Huggitt’s lawyers applying for a ‘wasted costs order’ because of the financial expense incurred as a result of legal proceedings. Similarly Lock’s representatives have applied for a ‘defence costs order’ on behalf of their client, with no further announcements being made.

PICTURED BY ALAMY: Giraffes enjoy feeding time at Marwell Zoo under sunny skies back in summer 2019.