Wiltshire Police say “No Further Action” against an Avon Vale Terrierman who almost fatally attacked a hunt saboteur, after sabs prevented a dig out of a fox.
Bulkington, Wiltshire 29-01-2022
Wiltshire Hunt Sabs describe what happened:
Sabs thoroughly documented the dig-out part of the story at the time it happened; sab groups from Wiltshire, Reading, Bristol and Bath had been on the Avon Vale Hunt all day, having set off just after 11am from Mill Farm, a farm and equestrian center owned by brewery chain Wadworths’ chairman Charles Bartholomew. As well as being a former Master of the Avon Vale, Bartholomew also part-owns their kennels in nearby Spye Park.
Around 3pm, a team of Reading Sabs located the huntsman and hounds on top of a badger sett having hunted a fox to ground. Sabs recorded the huntsman and hounds waiting for the terrierman, Ryan Walpole-Johnsen, to finish digging in a scene reminiscent of the recent leaked video for which they are facing criminal charges. Another team of sabs crossed the field to stop the illegal dig out.
On this occasion the dig didn’t end in a fox kill, thanks to Reading Sabs. Avon Vale Huntsman and convicted wildlife criminal, Stuart Radbourne, who has previous convictions for digging into a badger sett, quickly took the hounds away when he saw the sabs. Brazenly Johnsen attempted to keep digging.
Sabs from Wiltshire, Bristol and Bath were close by, and some of them headed to the sett to support Reading Sabs, who by now had been assaulted several times, and at least one phone with the footage on stolen and thrown into thick bramble. On arrival at the sett, sabs from Bristol Sabs, were assaulted and threatened multiple times by spade-wielding Johnsen.
Despite the assaults and abuse they received from Johnsen, sabs were successful in stopping the dig out, and Johnsen and his masked-up mate eventually gathered their nets and spades, jumped on their quad and fled as they left they claimed to be doing legal terrier work despatching a fox, meaning they would have to have a firearm on his quad.
Some 45 minutes later, the same sabs encountered Johnsen on a public road, he lost the plot screaming and attacking sabs wherever he could find them. As he approached the Bristol sabs, he attacked one, ripping his bodycam from his chest and punching him to the head, causing him to lose consciousness, and resulting in a serious bleed to the brain.
As he did so, he threw the sabs bodyworn camera to the second terrierman, and a scuffle broke for the stolen camera with another sab, and this sab successfully retrieved the stolen camera from the second terrierman. The other sab who had been attacked was now unconscious, laying on the road for several minutes as other members of the hunt laughed as they rode past him, whilst sabs called for an ambulance.
The air ambulance was dispatched, the sab was subsequently hospitalised for several days. The attack was reported to Wiltshire Police, but it took police around 3 months to take statements from witnesses and the victim. Eventually when sabs were invited to give statements, they provided evidence that the assaults took place on public roads and footpaths, which had been confirmed by Wiltshire Council Highways Department. Up to this point, the police believed Johnsens’ false claims in the video, claiming the road was ‘private’.
The police delay in securing statements, and interviewing Johnsen, meant that the window to charge for the earlier and lesser assaults at the badger sett, had now passed the 6 month limit. They were confident, they said, that the main assault was a strong case on its own.
In December 2022, the victim was notified that the CPS refuse to charge Johnsen, because he claimed to be acting ‘in self defence’ due to the scuffle that occurred over the stolen camera, between the second terrierman and another sab. That the side-scuffle was to retrieve a camera stolen in an assault seconds earlier, didn’t figure into their decision.
Much has been said by us already with regard to the police involvement and affiliations with this local criminal hunt, we exposed PC Hughes – tasked with attending the Avon Vale Boxing Day meet in 2021, as a member of the Avon Vale Hunt, since then, we have uncovered a PCSO based in Bradford on Avon who is also a subscriber, and an incident control operator who is very closely connected to a director of the Avon Vale Hunt Limited. But lets give a special shout out to the latest foxhunting criminal PC Knight, who recently joined the Rural Crime Team, having hunted with the Avon Vale and the Beaufort over her many years of hunting, whilst a serving police officer with Wiltshire Police.
There is also a long history of Wiltshire Police officers and their family members associated with this hunt including firearms officers working in Royal Protection, and numerous officers affiliated to other hunts such as the Wiltshire & Infantry Beagles – a hare killing pack of criminals, and of course even officers who have subscriptions to the Royal Artillery Hunt. We could be here all day naming all their hunting officers and their hunting affiliations. But lets also not forget that this police force is in special measures following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICFRS), not least because of its appalling standards of investigation. But it isn’t just the police that concerns us.
Given the recent history of the CPS here in Wiltshire, Wessex CPS to be precise, we have seen some very strange decisions, such as the ‘one day late’ decision to charge Royal Artillery Huntsman Charles Carter, which led to his acquittal in court for another clear cut case of illegal hunting, and then there is the attempt to quietly drop the case against ex-Avon Vale Master and Huntsman Jonathon Seed, who attempted to con his way to the Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner role, in a scandal that cost local tax payers over a million quid in election re-run costs, that it is actually no surprise to those of us who experience this corrupt local criminal justice system here in Wilts, to find out that this case was never going to end in justice for the victim.
There is a protest today, 5th March, against Wiltshire Police appointing a hunter with links to the Avon Vale and Beaufort hunts to their Rural Crime Team. Join us! 1pm, at Wiltshire Police HQ, London Road, Devizes SN10 2DN. You can also sign a petition here.