Two brothers have been fined for a “foolish prank” in which they took a brood of live hens on a stag do.

Craig Barnett, 23, and his 21-year-old brother Bradley kept six chickens in boxes in the back of a car for around five-and-a-half hours last July, while they and their friends went to watch greyhound racing at Poole Stadium.

They then released them into a hotel bathroom, where they were intended to be a “surprise for the stag,” prosecutor Matthew Knight said.

He said the chickens were left in the bathroom for a further six hours before a member of the stag party, clad in his boxer shorts, took them down to the lobby of the Lynden Court Hotel at around 3.30am.

A member of hotel staff then ushered the chickens outside. Bournemouth Magistrates Court heard that one was taken by a fox, one was found dead the next morning, two were never found and two were rescued and rehomed.

Craig, of Long Burton in Sherborne, and Bradley, of Rudwick in Horsham, both pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to take reasonable steps to provide four chickens with a suitable environment.

Craig, who works for a communications company, was fined £315, while university student Bradley was fined £125. Both were also ordered to pay £375 each in costs.

Their solicitor, Nigel Ley, said both brothers had grown up working on farms and had a good track record with animals but were guilty of a “moment of madness.”

“My clients now realise what a stupid thing it was to do,” he said.

“It was done in a moment of absolute stupidity, they just didn’t think it through. This was a one-off incident that will never occur again.”

The brothers had claimed the chickens were intended to be a present for their mother and had denied they were carrying out a prank.

But presiding magistrate Francis Vine said: “We believe that the incident started out as a foolish prank which went wrong and that you are now fully aware of the consequences of this type of behaviour and your actions.”

Following the hearing, RSPCA Inspector Graham Hammond said: “Using animals of any sort for a prank or entertainment is socially and legally unacceptable. Even if they didn’t give it much thought beforehand, they really should have done. We all want stag and hen parties to have a fantastic time when they come to Bournemouth but that entertainment should be purely within the party, it shouldn’t affect animals or other people.”

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