HSA news release 15th May 2006
One rule for them...
On 15th May Douglas Hill, Joint Huntmaster of the Essex Farmers and Union Foxhunt narrowly escaped a jail term after being convicted on two counts of assault, assaulting a police officer, criminal damage and threatening behaviour after a four day trial.
The charges related to events on 12th March 2005, when Hill had hit one male sab on the head with his whip, and then spat blood into the face of a police officer. He then repeatedly attacked a female sab with his whip, hitting her twice on the arm and once on the head. She had to attend hospital for concussion.
The pictures on this page were taken of Hill on the same day. For some reason, he decided to change from his normal red jacket (worn at the time of the assaults, see above) to a less distinguishable Black jacket during the day (see below). His arrogance, stupidity and reliance on Essex constabulary's traditional 'blind eye' style of policing prevented him from leaving the area altogether, deciding instead to continue his day's hunting as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
The sentence of 220 hours community service, 3x£350 compenation, £250 fine and £1,600 in costs does seem somewhat lenient. It sends the message out to the hunting fraternity that you can assault protesters and police officers, get arrested charged and convicted, and still get away with just a slap on the wrist.
Had these charges been proven against someone other than a master of the hunt, we doubt their feet would have touched the ground on the way to the nearest prison.
This is the wrong signal to be sending out. As hunt violence rises against the sabs and monitors trying to highlight breaches of the hunting bill, this was an opporttunity to let the hunters know that violence against people as well as animals is will not go unpunished. That said, the fact that two Essex Huntsmen have been convicted of violent offences in the last year is a positive sign, but represents only the smallest fraction of the abuse and violence that hunt sabs continue to suffer in their efforts to help British wildlife.
Video footage used in court of this assault is available.