I’m just back from court. They day was a little frustrating but also interesting to see how our legal process works. The huntsman and and bird of prey handler from the Fitzwilliam Hunt were due in court to face charges in relation to hunting a wild mammal with dogs in contravention of the Hunting with Dogs Act 2004 and another charge of cruelty to a protected animal  which dates back to 2013. The details of the incident were cover in my blog entry here.

George Adam (64) the huntsman (now retired) and bird of prey handler John Mease (44) were both due to appear today (27th) but their legal representation requested an adjournment which was granted. They are due to appear again on the 31st August.

Adams_Mease

They were due to appear in court 2 of Peterborough Magistrates Court. Court 2, we were informed is the “not guilty” plea court. Of course it’s up to the defendant how they plea when they’re in there but in most cases the courts have a fair idea of what the plea will be in advance. So is there anything we can read into this?

Well, perhaps they’ve reconsidered their options and will now be entering a guilty plea? Certainly such a plea will lessen the penalties although for a hunt with such a history, wealth and high standing I doubt this would be a consideration. A more likely option is that they are just drawing the matter out as long as possible so their legal team can explore every possible option in an effort to circumnavigate the justice they should face. We all know that the legislation isn’t fit for purpose and needs to be strengthened however it’s all we have to work with at the time and I believe we have a solid case. More importantly the CPS will only prosecute if they believe they can secure a conviction and Cambridgshire police did a solid job with the investigation.

dead fox

The annoying thing with these matters is that everyone involved knows they are guilty, privately the huntsman will probably admit he was illegally hunting (John Mease was laughing as the hounds killed the fox so he certainly believes to be above the law) and the fact they killed a fox isn’t up for debate. The problem lies with proof that there was intent to hunt a wild mammal with dogs and that’s where hunts know they can get out of facing up to their crimes. This case has huge importance regarding the Bird of Prey Exemption which I wrote about at length here, and no doubt this point isn’t lost on the defence’s legal team and the Countryside Alliance in general.

I’ll report back on the 31st. Fingers crossed.

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