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Three members of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt were convicted of illegal fox hunting yesterday (14/05/12) at Haywards Heath magistrates. The verdicts were handed after two weeks and followed a seven day trial in April. This is the first case of its kind in Sussex and the three criminals follow in the footsteps of only eight other hunters since the ban came into force in 2005.

Hunt secretary and `trail layer` Rachel Holdsworth was fined two loads of £500 after being found guilty on two offences and huntsman Neill Mallard was fined £1000. Both were ordered to pay £2,500 each in legal costs. Former hunt master Andrew Phillis, now hunt master of the Dartvale and South Pool Harriers in Devon, is currently on holiday and will receive his punishment on May 21st. Seeing as the two are both `respectable` business people – Holdsworth managing her own PR company and Mallard the founder of a wealth management firm – their barrister pleaded for a long time for them not to get financial penalties as this would seriously damage their reputation and work prospects.

In his verdict District Judge Stephen Nicholls stated that he approved the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses and that their statements were not biased. Even more damningly he called the evidence given by the defence 'a scam' and said that the trail laying seen in the videos was 'just a show for the cameras'. He concluded that after a fox was sighted no steps were taken to call off the hounds in fact they were encouraged to pursue the hunt with calls like `get on it`. None of the defendants gave evidence, and their only `expert witness` was a fox-hunter himself.

According to prosecution expert witness Professor Stephen Harris, an internationally renowned fox expert, there were no signs of trail hunting in the video footage. He pointed out that the hounds showed no interest in Holdsworth or her duster with its `artificial scent` and they did not follow the trail she supposedly was laying. Also her clothes were spotless and didn't look at all like she had been crawling through the undergrowth as you would if you were laying a trail. He demolished the defence idea that fox-hounds naturally chase foxes by pointing out that as they have a life span of about five years* the hounds would not be accustomed to hunting live mammals, or their scents, if, as C&H claims, they have always kept within the law and done their law abiding trail hunting.

The Crawley and Horsham fox-hunt have been amongst the most flagrant breakers of the hunting ban since its introduction. They also have a long history of violence, intimidation and even fracking. They tried to gain an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act to prevent hunt monitors from filming their blatant law-breaking. So the fact that the video footage which secured the convictions was gathered by hunt sabs must really, really sting!

For all this, and more than you ever wanted to know about second-hand Land Rovers, go to the Hunt Saboteurs Association

*Not their natural life-span, it's just that after they've lived out their useful years, the hunts then shoot the hounds and then feed them to the other dogs. Real charmers aren't they!

There are 4 comments on this story...
Added By: Anonymous - 17th May 2012 @ 11:47 AM
What a bunch of Jeremys
Added By: chris tasker - 17th May 2012 @ 2:32 PM
the 'last run in the bellies of their mates' is something I would love to see the hunt disprove......so what DO they do with 6 yr old hounds ? if it is true that some 7000 hounds are disposed of every year, I wonder where they go ?
Added By: Phil - 20th May 2012 @ 8:44 PM
Now just waiting for them to appeal (if permitted) - and (please, please) LOSE!!
Added By: John Somebody - 21st May 2012 @ 12:31 AM
Now I suppose the law won't be repealed, while there's an image problem, of sadistic hypocrite rich people, in the news so much. If it survives to the next election, then surely Labour hypocrites won't have the stupidity to tarnish their image more, and bring it back. So the pattern can start to set solid.
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