A local hunt protest group has reacted with relief to the jailing of a prominent supporter of the South Pembrokeshire Hunt. Steven Barrett, 66, of St Clears, was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on Friday 20th July to three and a half years in jail for the possession of illegal firearms and ammunition. The customised weaponry was discovered following his arrest last year, in connection with the shooting of a hunt monitor near Yerbeston, in the Cresselly area of south Pembrokeshire.
The incident happened when two members of West Wales Anti Bloodsports were observing the early morning activities of the South Pembrokeshire Hunt from a footpath. After encountering a gang of hunt supporters, a protestor was shot in the head with some kind of projectile, possibly an airgun pellet. Six individuals were arrested and their vehicles searched, and a sawn-off rifle and ammunition was discovered in Barrett’s possession. He claimed in court that it was for shooting foxes. Later, a huge collection of airguns was found at his home.
The shooting occurred at a pre-season ‘cubbing’ meet, at Campshill Farm near Yerbeston. It resulted in the protestor being taken to hospital with a profusely bleeding head wound. Shortly beforehand, Barrett had subjected the couple to highly offensive and apparently racist abuse, and a South Pembrokeshire Hunt terrierman had challenged them to a fight.
“We had a strong suspicion that a fox had been illegally dug out, and I was about to phone the police when I heard a metallic pinging noise. Suddenly, there was an intense sharp pain in my forehead, and blood pouring down my face. I knew that I had been shot with something, and a feeling of terror came over me” said the protestor. “I was taken to hospital in an emergency ambulance, and found to have a circular head wound that had penetrated right through the skin. I would have lost an eye if the missile had hit me lower in the face”.
A spokesman for West Wales Anti Bloodsports said that Barrett had previously been openly threatening towards them, and his behaviour reported to the police. “We are immensely relieved that this violent individual has been jailed. We are however disappointed that the South Pembrokeshire Hunt Master was not apparently inclined to reign in such loose cannons. Even after being arrested, Barrett continued to attend hunt meets, and was able to continue his pattern of intimidation. On one such occasion, he appeared to be working for the hunt, and was cracking a long whip in a frightening manner. We have had our car tyres slashed on three occasions when out watching the South Pembrokeshire Hunt, and had horses backed into us on dozens of occasions.
BBC coverage of the shooting is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-18926997. Footage of the shooting incident can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNywQlmXfUkt .The film can be reproduced and disseminated freely. Footage of Steven Barrett threatening hunt monitors can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAmjkY9SIpQ&feature=plcp
West Wales Anti Bloodsports is a law-abiding, peaceful protest group, which monitors and records the actions of local fox hunts during the hunting season. Participants abide by a strict code of conduct. Most of their work involves the use of video cameras, although simple non-violent interventions may be undertaken to help wild animals being pursued by hounds. West Wales Anti Bloodsports is therefore allied to, and supportive of, the peaceful activities of the Hunt Saboteurs Association.
Pre-season hunting now officially goes by the sanitised name of ‘autumn hunting’, but is still widely known as ‘cubbing’. It describes a now banned practice in which hunts take hounds to woodlands where fox families are known to live, surround them with riders and supporters on foot, and drive the young foxes back into the woods - to be torn apart - if they try to escape.
West Wales Anti Bloodsports has filmed foxes being pursued by packs of hounds on several occasions. The group has recorded one instance in which a fox was shot and disembowelled. On another occasion, a fox was filmed escaping from a hedge, where Pembrokeshire terriermen with nets and a dog were trying to trap it. In addition, at least two active badger setts were dug out, one on land belonging to the Master of the South Pembrokeshire Hunt. These acts echo wildlife crimes for which hunt officials in England have been convicted. The group has published video clips of what it witnessed on the Internet. http://www.youtube.com/user/westwalesantis
Hunt saboteurs Association Press Release July 16th 2012
Lee Peters,Master Huntsman for the Ross Harriers, has been charged with racially aggravated harassment and threatening behaviour. The alleged incident took place in January of this year when Mr. Peters racially abused a hunt saboteur. Fortunately he was overheard by an independent witness, who called the police, and he will now appear in court on November 12th.
Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated: “ The pro-hunt lobby always like to say that we only care about animals, however, the Hunt Saboteurs Association has a long history of being involved in anti-fascist campaigning and it continues to be one of our core values. It is the hunters who abuse both humans and animals”
The case taken against two Brighton hunt Saboteurs was dropped today.
Alastair Cannell of St Pauls Street, Brighton and Gavin Pidwell of London Road Brighton were charged with aggravated trespass while attending a meet of the old Surrey Burstow & West Kent fox hunt. The accusation from the police was the two has used citronella sprays to disrupt a lawful activity. No evidence was offered against Mr Pidwell and the police and CPS decided it was not in the public interest to proceed against Mr Cannell. On that day the hunt was clearly seen to be moving in front of its alleged trail layer and foxes were seen moving away from the hunt. It also transpired that the police approached the land owner only after the arrests had been made.
The two saboteurs were released with bail conditions stating that they were not to consort with any other hunt saboteurs, although the police then called a known hunt saboteur to pick them both up from the police station! These restrictions were later dropped.
On the same day the police impounded the Brighton hunt Saboteurs land rover claiming that the driver did not have the correct driver’s license to carry over 8 passengers. Surrey police have since admitted that this was incorrect and the driver and vehicle was being used legally. It has since been admitted that the vehicle did not need to be impounded and all costs refunded. It was the police's decision to impound the vehicle and to do so which could have left a number of hunt saboteurs stranded in the middle of the hunt, if other groups had not managed to transport them to safety.
The police also had a number of Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) police officers attending that day who only recorded by video the activities of the hunt saboteurs, regardless of the fact that they have been a number of extremely violent attacks on hunt saboteurs from this hunt over the years and whose huntsman, Mark Bycroft, has a conviction for assault on a hunt saboteur. This is also the hunt whose supporter Martin Maynard, ran over and nearly killed hunt saboteur Steve Christmas. Although the CPS discontinued the prosecution, Steve was awarded nearly £20,000 in compensation.
Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt saboteurs Association stated: "Once again the Surrey Police and the CPS have shown that they still consider it their job to persecute hunt saboteurs and view them as the problem, when it is clear to all right thinking people that the prospective criminals morally and legally are the hunt and its supporters. If the police put as much effort into targeting the hunts as they do the hunt saboteurs, we would see many more convictions under the hunting act and the possible end of the flouting of this law, which is supported by the majority of the populace.
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