Press Release 13th March 2014
On Boxing day 2012 at the meet of the South Down & Eridge fox hunt, the driver of the South Coast Hunt Sabs was the subject of a vicious and sustained attacked by supporters of the hunt. The groups Land Rover windscreen was smashed, the door bent back on its hinges and the keys and an ipad stolen. The driver sustained seven deeps cuts to his hands when he was hit with a rock, and subsequent swelling of the hands as he tried to protect his head. The wounds were so bad that the first police officer on the scene thought they were dog bites.
This assault was videoed by a static camera and two men were identified by name to the police. When questioned by the police one of the men gave a twenty page statement identifying two other individuals involved in the attack. There was also clear video evidence from earlier in the day identifying the same men by their clothes as being part of the attack. Earlier in the day police had been called as some of the same group were firing stones from a catapult at hunt saboteurs and the police questioned and videoed these men, although no arrests were made.
The police at the scene refused to take any action until a statement was made, stating that they were too scared to enter the meet where the hunt was packing up due to the threat of attack by hunt supporters. A statement was made by the driver even though he was suffering from severe cuts and bruising to his hands and possible concussion and before he received any medical treatment (the ambulance service had refused to attend the scene due to the nature of the incident and the danger to their staff). Eventually three arrests were made and two men charged. They were given bail conditions not to attend the hunt. One of the men broke these conditions but no action was taken against him.
Charges of Criminal damage, theft and ABH were dropped and the two men were charged with common assault by battery. The maximum sentence for which is 6 months in jail.
After two visits to court where the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had failed to hand over evidence, the case finally went ahead on the 12th March 2014. All the above evidence was heard including the damning 20 page statement made by one of the two defendants naming his co-defendant as being part of the attack and also being a paid terrier man for the hunt. One the three magistrates admitted to stabling her horses at the same location as one the men named in the paperwork (but not in court) but did not excuse herself. The defendants did not take the stand.
Even with all this evidence the magistrates found both men not guilty.
Lee moon of the hunt Saboteurs Association said:
“Once again we see hunt saboteurs being the subject of a violent attack and the police doing everything possible to avoid getting involved. Even with clear evidence of the perpetrators guilt magistrates refuse to convict. It seems that no matter what level of evidence hunt saboteurs present they are destined not to have justice from our legal system, which also fails time and again, to prosecute and convict hunts for breaking the Hunting Act. Luckily for the hunted wildlife this travesty of justice just makes hunt saboteurs more determined to protect our wildlife as it is clear we are their last line of defence”.
Video of the attack can be seen here: