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Middleton hunt members fined after video footage showed illegal fox hunting
VIDEO footage has emerged showing members of a North Yorkshire hunt taking part in illegal fox hunting.
The four men, who are members of the Middleton Hunt, based near Malton, were caught on camera taking part in the incident.
At York Magistrates’ Court on Thursday they pleaded guilty to hunting a wild mammal with dogs.
Tom Holt, Shaun Marles, Lee Martin and Brian Cuthbertson were reported to Humberside Police following the incident, which saw a fox scared out of a pile of big bales before being chased down and killed by a pack of dogs.
A video of the incident was submitted to police by The League Against Cruel Sports.
Paul Tillsley, head of investigations at the league, was one of the team that filmed the incident.
He said: “While we’re pleased with this result, and the admission of guilt from the hunt staff concerned, we doubt it will change their behaviour going forward, or that the hunt themselves will admit illegal hunting and change their ways.
“We can only hope that successful cases like this will make hunts think twice about continuing to blatantly flout the law, and start adapting their practices to hunt false trails, leaving animals well alone. This was the will of the British public when the Hunting Act 2004 was passed, but sadly it didn’t save this fox.”
Holt received a £200 fine, Marles and Martin each received a £100 fine, and Cuthbertson was given a 12-month conditional discharge by magistrates.
All four men were ordered to pay £85 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
Further charges, under the Hunting Act and the Animal Welfare Act 2006, were dropped against each man.
A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “The four men were originally charged with offences under the Hunting Act and the Animal Welfare Act.
“The Animal Welfare Act has never been used in relation to fox hunting before but we believed that we had enough evidence to take this to court.
“However, on the day of the hearing a guilty plea was offered to one of the Hunting Act offences.
“It was decided that this plea should be accepted as it was not thought to be in the public interest to proceed with the other charges. We’re now looking into that decision.”
Tim Bonner, director of campaigns for the Countryside Alliance, said the hunt accepted the incident had broken the law, and pleading guilty minimised the time and money spent on the case.
He said: “The Middleton Hunt has accepted that the fox should have been shot in accordance with the exemption rather than killed by hounds.”