A 10-YEAR-OLD boy battered a duck to death after friends caught it on a fishing line. Hereford Youth Court heard how one of the youngest defendants to come before county magistrates seized the duck by its legs and beat it with a stick.

The creature's headless carcass was found dumped nearby.

The boy admitted intentionally killing a wild bird - an offence under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. He was made the subject of a three-month referral order supervised by Herefordshire youth offending team.

The attack occurred in June just a month after the boy turned 10, the age at which he could be prosecuted.

Julian Harris, prosecuting, said police arrested the boy at Belmont Pools, Hereford, based on descriptions from horrified eyewitnesses. They watched friends of the boy reel the obviously distressed duck in off a fishing line baited with bread.

This same group, said Mr Harris, had earlier been seen throwing things into the water to drive ducks and swans away from their fishing spot.

The boy was seen to take the duck - its wings flapping - by its legs and beat it about the head with a stick or similar weapon - an attack that continued when the duck was dropped to the ground.

Anthony Weston, for the boy, said his client accepted his part in the duck's death against a background of other involvement'.

Chair of the Bench Felicity Walker told the boy that the referral order was imposed so he could think about what he had done and behave better in future.

She said that the boy should help around the house so any pocket money could go towards the £30 in costs his mother was made responsible for.

The boy cannot be named for legal reasons.