HSA news release August 25th 2004

£18,500 compensation for hunt saboteur almost killed at cub hunt

CICB award after Criminal Justice system fails victims yet again

A hunt saboteur has been awarded £18,500 in Criminal Injuries compensation 4 years after he was attacked whilst trying to stop a cub hunt. The award was the outcome of an appeal against an earlier decision not to award compensation.

On 1 September 2000, Steve Christmas was at a dawn meet of the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent Hunt attempting to stop them from killing fox cubs. He was driven over by a hunt supporter at the wheel of a four wheel drive vehicle. Steve almost died. Had he not survived he would have been the third hunt saboteur to die whilst saving animals' lives.

After the incident, he was airflifted to hospital and spent 4 weeks in intensive care, with a crushed pelvis, broken ribs and serious abdominal injuries. Consequently he had to have part of his bowel removed, a plate placed in his pelvis, repairs to multiple stomach hernias, and suffers from a double groin hernia that is inoperable due to previous operations.

Speaking after he was told the outcome last week, Steve said "I feel vindicated. At last part of the legal system has acknowledged that I was the victim of a violent criminal assault through no fault of my own.

Unbelievably, a case brought by the Crown Prosecution Service against the driver of the vehicle, Martin Maynard, for "Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent" was discontinued in September 2001. The reason given was that one of the witnesses was imprisoned for an unrelated offence. Since the criminal injuries appeal, it has come to light that Maynard has a lengthy criminal record for violence. It took 2 years from the time of the assault for the police to bring a case against Maynard for driving with no insurance or licence when he carried out the attack.

Maynard was offered the opportunity to speak to the criminal injuries panel, but failed to appear.

The compensation Steve received was for injuries only. He previously had a promising career as an engineering consultant but is now unable to work, yet has received no compensation for loss of earnings.

In order to get any compensation at all, Steve has had to use legal professionals. He has also investigated the viability of bringing a private prosecution against the driver of the vehicle but costs turned out to be too prohibitive. All in all, legal action to date has cost Steve approximately £20,000. Some of this cost was borne by supporters moved by his plight.

Nathan Brown, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA), said "Steve is lucky to be alive. Whilst we welcome the decision, there is a long way for us to go until Steve will have received true justice. Now that the criminal injuries panel has recognised that Steve was the victim of a crime, we hope there will be a review of why the case to bring the perpetrator to justice failed. Violence against hunt saboteurs is all too common but prosecutions are all too rare. The legal system has consistently failed people injured and killed whilst engaged in lawful and peaceful protest, whilst at the same time attempting to criminalise those activities."

Notes for editors:
- Mike Hill died on 9 February 1991 whilst sabotaging the Cheshire Beagles hare hunt.
- Tom Worby died on 3 April 1993 at the Cambridgeshire Hunt
- Nobody has faced charges for either of their deaths
- The Countryside Alliance and the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent Hunt have tried to claim that the attack on Steve took place at a pheasant shoot. However, the attack took place outside of the pheasant shooting season.
- Steve Christmas is willing to answer questions relayed through the HSA Press Officer