Once again, reports of Boxing Day hunts treat us to chocolate box portrayals of gangs whose real intent and desire is to terrorise and slaughter wildlife for fun.

The recent Heythrop convictions – forced into admitting 12 charges of illegal hunting – are far from the first where the hunts’ contention that they just follow trails and suffer occasional accidents has been exposed as a sham.

Hunts nationwide employ ruses and exploit loopholes to continue hunting live quarry much as before the ban, and bamboozle police forces, usually reluctant anyway, into not acting against them.

In previous recent cases – the Fernie in 2011, the Crawley & Horsham and the Meynell this year – the presiding judges saw through their flimsy pretences and condemned the evidence they gave as the “cynical subterfuge” it was.

But the Heythrop judge barely criticised the self-confessed offenders at all, making his pro-hunt sympathies evident, and notably failed to praise the brave and dedicated volunteer monitors who did the police’s job in exposing the hunt’s repeated law-breaking.

The Hunting Act was passed with overwhelming public support. People expect the law against the cruel chasing and killing of wild mammals for “sport” to be upheld.

Somebody has to stand up for decency and the rule of law, to defend the defenceless.

The police will rarely do it, and the media are largely compliant with hunters’ lies.

Thank goodness for the monitors and the RSPCA.

Alan Kirby, Protect Our Wild Animals Hayle, Cornwall