Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 17:15 UK

Pair guilty of harassing dolphin

Michael Jukes (left) and Daniel Buck
Michael Jukes and Daniel Buck had been to a friend's party

Two men who swam in the sea with a dolphin after a night out have been found guilty of harassing the animal.

Michael Jukes, 27, and Daniel Buck, 26, were found guilty of intentionally or recklessly disturbing a wild animal at Sandgate, Kent in June last year.

Dover magistrates heard they had touched and stroked Dave the dolphin, which had become a tourist attraction spotted regularly near Folkestone.

They were each ordered to carry out 120 hours community service.

A lack of recent sightings has led to speculation that Dave, who was actually female, has now died.

The court heard that during the incident on 9 June a witness heard one of the men shout: "People pay hundreds of pounds to do this in Florida and I'm doing it in Folkestone."

Drinking heavily

Civil engineer Buck, from Church Road, Folkestone, admitted during the trial he was pulled along by the dolphin after he grabbed its fin.

Pipe fitter Jukes, from Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone said he had stroked its belly.

The pair had decided to have a swim at around 0500 BST after attending a party at a friend's house where they had both been drinking heavily.

They said they had not realised they were doing anything wrong and thought the animal had enjoyed swimming with them.

Summing up, chairman of the bench John Offord said a number of experts had demonstrated the dolphin's normal pattern of behaviour was disturbed.

DVD footage of the incident filmed by a witness captured the dolphin swimming towards the men head on and breaching the water, signs which showed the animal was distressed.

Mr Offord said there had been a number of discrepancies between what Buck and Jukes had told police when they were questioned initially and their evidence in court.

And he said they had refused to leave the water even after police ordered them to come out.

However, he said they had acted recklessly, rather than intending to disturb Dave.

Each was also ordered to pay 350 costs.




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