Successful prosecutions

There have been over 280 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 2013: The huntsman for 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 this year. The incident was filmed by an independent anti-hunt monitor who subsequently handed the footage to Sussex police. In April this year Nick Bycroft was fined £150 after admitting to Public order offences and Criminal damage after an unprovoked attack on hunt saboteurs last November.

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.

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.

October 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.

November 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.