Prosecutions

huntsman arrestedThere have been over 340 successful prosecutions under the Hunting Act. Listed below is a brief summary of some of the cases that have been reported in the press. Please note that due to the large amount of prosecutions it is not possible to list details of all the cases here.

Sep 2014: William and Mark Gaskin from Holbeach in Lincolnshire were found guilty of hunting a wild mammal with a dog and trespassing in pursuit of game at Boston Magistrates' Court on the 1st September 2014. Operation Galileo officers arrested the men after a member of the public witnessed them with a lurcher dog which was chasing a hare in Sutton St James in November 2013. William and Mark Gaskin were each fined £800 and ordered to pay £300 costs. Their vehicle was also to be forfeited.

Sep 2014: William Jones, 26, from North Wales admitted hunting a fox with a dog in breach of Section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004 and one charge of keeping an animal for fighting, contrary to Section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Appearing at Caemarfon Magistrates' Court on 15th September 2014 Jones received a 30 day custodial sentence suspended for 12 months, fined £120 plus £500 costs, banned from keeping dogs for 8 years and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work. The case was the result from a joint operation between the police and RSPCA.

Sep 2013: The huntsman of the Sussex based Crawley and Horsham Hunt appeared at Worthing Magistrates' Court and pleaded guilty to hunting a fox with dogs, contrary to Section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004. Nick Bycroft, 48, was given a 12 month conditional discharge, ordered to pay £150 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. In his mitigation the court was told that Bycroft "got carried away in the heat of the moment". The incident took place at Angmering Park, near Arundel on the 19th February 2013. The incident was filmed by an anti-hunt monitor who subsequently handed the footage to Sussex police. In April 2013 Nick Bycroft was fined £150 after admitting to Public Order offences and Criminal Damage after an unprovoked attack on hunt saboteurs in November 2012. 

Sep 2013:  Huntsman for the Seavington Hunt pleaded guilty at Yeovil Magistrate's Court to hunting a fox with dogs, contrary to Section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004. David Parker, 39, was fined £500, ordered to pay £500 costs and a £50 victim surcharge. The defence's plea for a conditional discharge was dismissed by District Judge Lynne Matthews. The incident took place in January 2013 in the area of Causeway Lane, Winsham in Dorset and was filmed by investigators from the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The case was brought to court by the RSPCA.

Aug 2013:  Four members of the Middleton Hunt, a registered hunt based in north Yorkshire, each pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004 at York Magistrates Court. Joint master and huntsman Tom Holt was fined £200 and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge and £85 costs; whipper-in Shaun Marles was fined £100 and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge of £20; terrier man Lee Martin was fined £100 and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge and £85 cost; and amateur terrier man Brian Cuthbertson was given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £100 costs. The case concerned an incident that took place in December 2012 on land at Full Sutton in East Yorkshire and was filmed by investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports. A fox had taken refuge in a stack of hay bales and attempts were made to flush out the fox using terriers. Eventually after about 25 minutes the fox was flushed out into the open but was soon brought down and torn apart by the waiting pack of hounds. Holt used his hunting horn to blow the traditional call for a kill and then picked up the dead fox so the hounds could attack and 'rag' the carcass. 

May 2013: Two men have been found guilty at West Suffolk Magistrates' Court of illegally hunting a fox with a dog. The incident took place last October at Green Meadow in Stowmarket where Nicholas Harris, 44, and Anthony Laflin, 50, had gone with dogs, a high-powered lamp, a spade and a knife. Harris claimed to have been walking his 5 dogs in the afternoon when he lost one of them, a 7 year old Jack Russell. He carried out a 3 hour search before returning home and calling his friend Laflin for help. In the evening the police noticed the men's cars parked up at the entrance of Green Meadows and found fresh blood in the drivers footwell and a dead bird that had been plucked. They also found a dog cage in the back and garden shears with fresh blood on the side. The police officers were unable to find the two men but later stopped the men and found a dead fox in Harris's car. Harris claimed that he had found the dead fox together with the missing terrier down a rabbit hole. The two men deined the illegal hunting charge but Laflin pleaded guilty to possession of a lock knife. Both men were fined £150 each, £300 in cost and a £20 victim surcharge. Laflin was fined a further £150 for possession of a knife.

Feb 2013: Two men from Doncaster have been fined after being caught hare coursing at a farm in Sandtoft in the Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire in January. Felix Buller Boyling, 47 and Ambrose Watson, 43  both pleaded guilty to separate charges of hunting a wild mammal with a dog at North Lincolnshire Magistrates' Court in Scunthorpe. Boyling was ordered to pay a £200 fine with a victim surcharge of £15 plus £85 prosecution costs. He was disqualified from driving for 28 days and the court seized his car. Watson was fined £200 with a £20 victim surcharge and had to pay £85 court costs.

Dec 2012: The Heythrop Hunt Ltd and two of its members recently retired joint master Richard Sumner and former huntsman Julian Barnfield each pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates Court to four charges of illegally hunting foxes during the 2011/12 season. The case was prosecuted by the RSPCA and was the first time a hunt faced corporate charges. Extensive footage was supplied to the RSPCA by volunteer hunt monitors and after reviewing the evidence the RSPCA brought fifty two charges against the hunt and four of its members. Shortly  before the case was to be heard the hunt and two of its members offered to plead guilty to twelve charges which the RSPCA accepted. District Judge Tim Pattinson fined the hunt £4000, Sumner £1,800 and Barnfield £1,000. The hunt also had to pay £15,000 towards the RSPCA legal costs, Sumner £2,500 and Barnfield £2,000. Each defendant had to pay a £15 victim surcharge. 

Aug 2012: Two members of the Meynell and South Staffordhire Hunt were found guilty at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates court of Hunting Act offences. Hunt master the Honourable John Edward Greenall, brother of the Baron of Daresbury, was fined £3000, ordered to pay £500 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. Glen Morris of Tutbury was fined £250, ordered to pay £250 and a £15 victim surcharge. The offences took place in October last year at Sutton Farm at Sutton on the Hill and were filmed by two anti-hunt campaigners. The footage was played to the court and showed hunt supporters surrounding a wood where the hounds could be heard hunting. When a fox tried to escape from the wood the supporters clapped and hit their boots and saddles with riding crops to frighten the fox back in. Morris was filmed clapping his hands and waving his arms. A second fox broke out of the wood and was followed by a number of riders, which included Greenall. This is the first conviction under the Hunting Act for cub hunting.

May 2012: Three members of the Sussex based Crawley and Horsham Hunt were found guilty of Hunting Act offences at Haywards Heath Magistrates court. Andrew Phillis, former huntsman (currently huntsman and master of the Dart Vale and South Pool Harriers) was convicted of two offences, Rachel Holdsworth, hunt secretary was convicted of two offences and Neill Millard, joint master was convicted of one offence. Video footage of hounds in full cry chasing a fox on 18th January and 25th January last year were shown to the court during a seven day trial. The three defendants claimed to have been legitimately trail hunting and that the pursuit of the foxes was accidental. However, District Judge Stephen Nicholls said he was "not satisfied" that this was the case. The footage showed Holdsworth, who was acting as trail layer on one of the days, holding a riding crop with a duster on the end as if laying an artificial trail, but Judge Nicholls said this was done "for the benefit of the cameras". Phillis was fined £900 plus £2,500 costs; Holdsworth was fined £500 for each offence plus £2,500 costs and Millard was fined £1000 plus £2,500 costs.

Oct 2011: Huntsman Derek Hopkins and terrier man Kevin Allen of the Leicestershire based Fernie Hunt had thier appeal dismissed at Leicester Crown court. They had each been found guilty at Harborough Magistrates court ealier in the year of hunting a wild mammal with a dog and interfering with a badger sett in current use during a meet of the Fernie Hunt in January 2010. The incident had been filmed by League Against Cruel Sports investigators. Judge Michael Pert QC told the court that Hopkins was found to be "an unconvincing and unimpressive witness" and that Allen "was even less impressive" and "shifty and evasive". When previously convicted Hopkins was fined £850, £15 victim surcharge and £1250 costs. Allen was fined £650. £15 victim surcharge and £900 costs. The orignal sentences were confirmed but with additional costs: Hopkins £3,630 and Allen £2,730.

Nov 2010: Richard Down, huntsman for the Quantock Staghounds was convicted at Taunton Magistrates court of hunting a wild mammal with a dog. He is the first huntsman to be convicted twice under the Hunting Act 2004. Down claimed to be using the "rescue of a wild mammal" exemption and had hunted an injured stag to relieve its suffering. Video footage taken by a League Against Cruel Sports investigator showed the stag being pursued over open land by three hounds. Prosecutor Kerry Barker said the chase caused the stag "great distress" and District Judge Martin Brown said Down was "in control of the dogs and could have called them back". Down was fined £375, £15 victim surcharge and £2,530 costs.

Jul 2010: Alistair Robinson, A terrierman for the Ullswater Foxhounds, was found guilty in Penrith Magistrate’s court of breaching Section 1 of the Hunting Act. Video evidence captured by League Against Cruel Sports investigators on 26th October 2009 showed Robinson digging out the fox from underground and then beating it to death with a stick. He then tried to hide the carcass in a dry stone wall where it was later retrieved. Robinson was fined £250 and ordered to pay £900 in costs.

Apr 2010: Nigel Bell, huntsman and master of the Wick and District Beagles was cautioned by police for illegal hunting after admitting that he had hunted a hare with a pack of hounds. The incident took place in Febraury 2010 and was filmed by an investigator from the League Against Cruel Sports.

Sep 2009: TV chef and ‘Fat Lady’ Clarissa Dickson-Wright and race horse trainer Sir Mark Prescott pleaded guilty to Hunting Act offences and admitted to attending two hare coursing events in North Yorkshire in March 2007. Neither defendant appeared in person at Scarborough Magistrates' court on the 1st September 2009. The case was a private prosecution by IFAW.

Jul 2009: Two landowners have been found guilty of attending and permitting their land to be used for an illegal hare coursing event. Former racehorse trainer Miles Henry Easterby, 79, of Great Habton near Malton and Major John Shaw, 56, of Welburn near Kirkbymoor-side were convicted on July 29 at Scarborough Magistrates Court of breaching the Hunting Act in March 2007 in North Yorkshire.

Jan 2009: Three men were convicted at Basingstoke Magistrates Court on Monday, December 15. Each defendant was fined £200 and ordered to pay £100 costs. The court also ordered the forfeiture of their lurcher dogs.

Dec 2008: A Norfolk landowner has been convicted under the Hunting Act 2004 for allowing her property to be used for hare coursing during two organised events, following a prosecution brought by the RSPCA. Evidence for the case was obtained by investigators from League Against Cruel Sports and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Mary Birbeck, of Little Massingham House, was found guilty yesterday of permitting land at Little Massingham to be used for hare coursing on 12 November 2007, and 8 January 2008, at King’s Lynn Magistrates Court. Les Anderson, of Lodge Road, Feltwell, was also convicted of two charges of attending a hare coursing event and three of knowingly facilitating such an event. Anderson is chairman of the Kimberly and Wymondham Greyhound Club, which organised the two events at Little Massingham. Read the judgment.

May 2008: A man from Penrith and another from Skipton have been fined £200 each after hunting a fox with a dog and causing a dog to enter a badger sett. John Joseph Bowman, 19, of Lakeland View, Greengill, Penrith and William Smith, 27, of Keighley Road, Skipton pleaded guilty to both charges before Carlisle magistrates. Both men were prosecuted by the RSPCA under the Hunting Act 2004 after admitting their motivation for visiting the land with the dogs had been to find a fox.

Jan 2008: Huntsman William Goffe and Whipper-in Gary Bradley of the Minehead Harriers pleaded guilty at Bridgwater Magistrates' Court to illegal hunting in a private prosecution brought by the League Against Cruel Sports. Both were fined £300 and each asked to pay £500 towards legal costs. Gary Bradley, who rode a horse at a monitor, also pleaded guilty to a public order charge and has been fined £100.

Dec 2007: Robert Smith and Watson admitted to illegally hunting with dogs. Each defendant was fined £100, with £60 costs.

Oct 2007: Two members of the Quantock Staghounds each lost their appeal after they were each convicted under the Hunting Act 2004 in June 2007 at Bristol Magistrates' Court. On the 19th October 2007 at Taunton Crown Court Judge Wyn Williams upheld the original ruling that huntsman Richard Down and whipper-in Adrian Pillivant had been hunting primarily for sport and recreation. The pair had claimed to be hunting deer under the Flushing and stalking out exemption.

Oct 2007: A gang of seven men: Daniel Dooley, Darren Fairclough, Michael Smith, John Weeder and Paul Hoffman from Liverpool, Adam McIlvenna from Halewood and Kevin Walton from Knowsley were found guilty of hunting rats with dogs. Each was fined £400 and ordered to pay £65 court costs at St. Helen's Magistrates Court.

Aug 2007: Three men and a teenager pleaded guilty to illegally hunting foxes and badgers with dogs. Peter Blackhall, Thomas Bell, Adam Pengilley were fined £250 each with £80 costs, and ordered the immediate forfeiture of the Land Rover and the hunting equipment. The 17 year old teenager, who can not be named for legal reasons, was given a conditional discharge for 12 months with £80 costs. A 20-year-old man was given a caution.

Jul 2007: William Armstrong, Terrierman for the Flint and Denbigh Hunt in Wales, was found guilty of hunting a wild animal with dogs. He was fined £200 with £60 legal costs.

Jul 2007: James Rooney from High Wycombe was convicted of coursing for hares in Northamptonshire and was fined £200 with £250 costs.

Jun 2007: Richard Down and Adrian Pillivant from Somerset were convicted of hunting deer with hounds and each fined £500 with £1000 costs. Their appeal has been unsuccessful. Full Text of the appeal judgment (PDF)

Feb 2007: John Greenwood and Daniel Graves, both of Nelson in Lancashire were found guilty of hunting rabbits with lurchers. Greenwood was fined £100 with £95 costs and Graves was fined £50 with £95 costs.

Jan 2007: William Winter from Cambridge pleaded guilty at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates Court after being accused of chasing and killing a hare at Wickfield, near Stowmarket, Suffolk. He was fined £500 with £60 costs. [East Anglian Daily Times, 5/3/07]

Oct 2006: Mark Walsh and Terence Williams from Liverpool pleaded guilty in Chester Magistrates Court of hunting for foxes. Williams was fined £500 and Walsh was fined £500 with £2,896.07 costs payable to the RSPCA who prosecuted him. The court also ordered the forfeiture of one dog plus spades and collars. In November, Paul Kelly of Liverpool pleaded guilty for the same offence and was fined £500 with £2,846.09 costs and also had his terrier confiscated. In March 2007, Paul McMullen of Bootle was convicted for the same offence and was fined £750, ordered to pay £5,000 in costs and ordered to hand two dogs into RSPCA care.

Aug 2006: Tony Wright, huntsman with the Exmoor Foxhounds, was found guilty of illegal hunting in a private prosecution taken out by the League. He appealed the verdict and was later acquitted.

Oct 2005: Adam Pengilley was charged with offences against the Hunting Act 2004 and pleaded guilty at South Sefton Magistrates Court on the 6 October 2005. He admitted that he had been hunting rabbits on the estate without permission from the landowners and therefore his hunting with dogs was not exempt. He was fined £155 with £35 costs. Successful prosecutions under the Protection of Wildlife Mammals (Scotland) Act.

Mar 2004: Stephen Scott, from Hawick, was fined £300 at Jedburgh Sheriff Court for sending two terriers into a fox earth and using a lurcher to pursue and kill the fox. He was fined £300.

Dec 2005: David Murray from Dundee was found guilty after using two dogs to lure foxes into a trap. He was fined £150. Successful convictions for hare coursing: Six men have pleaded guilty to charges of harecoursing at Harlow Magistrates’ Court. Alfred Harris, 21, George Stevens, 20, Danny Harris, 21, Robert Harris, 22, Sam Harris, 20, all from South East London, and Shaun Clark, 37, from Basildon. Five of the men were ordered to pay a £275 fine, £100 in costs and £15 victim surcharge payment and the sixth, Clark, received a £350 fine, £100 costs and £15 victim surcharge. The car used at the scene will be crushed by police.

Jan 2006: Alec Reid of Croy, near Nairn, and Stephen Stewart of Inverness pleaded guilty to deliberately hunting hares with dogs in a field at Alves, near Forres. Reid and Stewart were each fined £250.

Dec 2005: Colin Stewart, who was already in prison for an earlier offence, had 60 days added to his sentence. Booth and Leslie were sentenced to 80 hours' community service while Sim was fined £300 and Stewart was put on probation for a year.

Sep 2005: Kevin Leslie of Aberdeen, Steven Booth, Michael Sim, Colin Stewart and Donald Stewart all pleaded guilty at Stonehaven Sheriff Court of hare coursing.

Jun 2005: James MacDonald, Samuel MacDonald and Shaun Mahon from Kirkcaldy were convicted of hare coursing in September 2004. James MacDonald was banned from keeping dogs for three years at Perth Sheriff Court and was ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service. Samuel Macdonald and Shaun Mahon were fined £250 each.