Thurlow huntsman found guilty of illegal fox hunting and assault

Former huntsman of the Thurlow Hunt Christopher Amatt, 58, of Attleton Green, Wickhambrook has been found guilty of hunting a fox with dogs, contrary to S1 Hunting Act 2004 and common assault. The three-day trial heard by Suffolk Magistrates Court, held at Ipswich Crown Court, concluded on the 13th March.  Another man associated with the Thurlow Hunt, Archibald Clifton-Brown 19, of Little Bradley Hall, Haverhill, was cleared of charges under the Hunting Act but found guilty of assault by beating.

Amatt was fined £150 for the hunting offence, £100 for the assault offence, and ordered to pay £600 costs and a £30 surcharge.

Clifton-Brown was fined £150 for the assault and ordered to pay £450 in costs and a £30 surcharge.

The offences took place on Boxing Day in December 2017 at Great Thurlow, Suffolk. Beds and Bucks Hunt Sabs and the North Cambs Hunt Sabs attended the hunt.Police were called to reports of an incident between a hunt group containing Amatt and Clifton-Brown and a number of hunt monitors in Trundley Wood, off Bury Road. The court was told that the sabs had heard the “chilling” sound of hounds on the scent of a fox and had tried to get the huntsman to call the dogs back. Amatt said there was nothing he could do once the hounds were “locked on”, other than to get in front of them. The fox was subsequently killed by the hounds and there followed a tussle over the dead fox which was when anti-hunt campaigner Steven Milton was assaulted. Clifton-Brown said he was trying to stop Milton from “stealing” the carcass, which he said belonged to the landowner and said he was “almost certain” the saboteurs would use it as “propaganda”.

District judge Nick Watson said he was sure Amatt had taken the dogs into the woods; knowing there was likely to be a fox, encouraging the hounds to hunt, and refusing to intervene when saboteurs arrived.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns, at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Despite fox hunting being banned 14 years ago, the hunts are tragically still out chasing and killing foxes. We welcome the joint actions of the saboteurs and police in bringing to justice these criminal thugs.”

 Sergeant Brian Calver from the Rural Crime Team speaking at the conclusion of the trial said:

Sergeant Brian Calver from the Rural Crime Team speaking at the conclusion of the trial said “The Hunting Act came into force in 2005 and as such, there’s no excuse for those involved in this pastime to carry out such acts. The legislation makes it quite clear what can and cannot be done and those involved have a duty to be conversant with the rules. 

“The fact that Amatt has been found guilty of these crimes today sends out a clear message to those who actively commit offences against wildlife. Where sufficient credible evidence is available, we will investigate these matters and bring those to justice that feel they can cause harm to our wildlife, with no regards for the welfare of the animals involved. 

“As a result of many factors, much of our flora and fauna is in decline or struggling to cope with the competing demands human beings place upon them and we need to do all we can to protect them. Humans can speak up for themselves, to report offences, but nature needs a voice and Wildlife Crime Officers are here to provide that by working closely with charities and other partners to protect our wildlife for generations to come.”