Posts Tagged ‘Aggravated Trespass’

As you can probably tell by the lack of updates I’ve been pretty busy.

This time of year is always the most time consuming for those in the wildlife protection business. The cruel and unnecessary badger cull is in full swing and sab teams across the country are travelling many miles to save as many lives as they can. It’s also cubbing season so those not involved in anti-cull activities are getting up at the crack of dawn to target those hunts participating in that vile activity, all the time having to fit in time for work and their families.

Speaking of work . . .

I’ve always been of the opinion that you can measure your success against your enemy by the lengths to which they will go to try and discredit you or remove completely from the game as it were. Since my involvement in several well publicised court cases my identity became fairly well known. Due to this I’ve had car loads of hunt thugs trying to intimidate me outside my house, I was part of the injunction that the Fitzwilliam Hunt tried to unsuccessfully bring against a group of sabs who were constantly highlighting their criminality, I’ve had calls at home and threats to my partner. My home has now security cameras installed and the police applied a marker to my property and number, this means I get a priority response in the event of a 999 call. Not so long ago I had someone from the pro hunt side contact my work and make a complaint about me . . . and it’s happened again.

A letter was sent to the UK head of the company I work for which was then handed to HR and made it’s way down to my boss who spoke to me about it. Of course my employers aren’t in the slightest bothered about what I do, mainly because it’s got nothing to do with them and it’s perfectly legal. Provided I don’t bring the company into disrepute then it’s all good. The other issue was of course that the letter was sent anonymously. Come on guys, if you don’t have the courage behind you’re conviction then your claims are effectively meaningless and will be filed in the nearest recycling bin.

nelson

Indeed they did Nelson . . .

Having seen the letter and the photos of me that it contained my boss thought it rather amusing, apparently there were some good action shots of me running around in the countryside. Hardly earth shattering stuff. After further discussion with sabs from other groups it would appear that I’m not the only one who has been targeted at their place of work. So the question is, is this and organised effort or is it just coincidence?

Either way all their attempts have fallen well short of their intended outcome, in fact they were complete failures. What the pro hunt side fail to comprehend is that they don’t have the support of the wider general public and that is more than likely to include those employers that sabs work for.

Simply put, they are (and I’m going to coin a phrase by a friend of mine) “the desperate flailings of a drowning organisation”.

Single hand of drowning man in sea asking for help

UPDATE: I held back the publication of this blog until I actually had a copy of the letter that was sent to my employers. Now I’ve seen it I have to say I’m a little disappointed by it’s contents. It’s almost as if someone from the CA wrote a standard list of lies (that’s all it is, a list) with all the usual “animal rights extremist” claims and then added my name to the top and references to this blog and the Beds & Bucks sab group. It’s poorly constructed and there’s absolutely ZERO information in there to make any employee concerned and the best they can come up with is some nonsense about aggravated trespass and harassment of hunt staff, which as we all know it utter hogwash. Maybe they should contact the Fitzwilliam and Thurlow hunts and ask them about their legal activities? Funny how they missed those little gems out.

The photographs were quite amusing but, come on guys, try and get something more up-to-date. Most of those are at least 3 years old, have you got nothing better? And one final thing, I know it’s probably something you don’t understand but no-one uses that font any more, much like your little minority hobby, it’s just ugly.

So, we’re only a few weeks into the main hunting season and it’s all kicking off already. We’re getting the usual hunt violence, illegal killing and inconsistent policing, which will be my focus on this blog.

If you’re a follower you’ll already know we’ve been trying to break down the historical differences between the police and those in wildlife protection and, by-and-large we’ve had some success. Bedfordshire police are acting on violence shown by the hired hunt thugs and starting to understand the reality of hunting within the county. While they may not be able to arrest the hunters themselves due to the poorly written legislation they aren’t interfering with our operations to oppose them.

However the same cannot be said for other forces across the country. A couple of weeks ago we sabbed the Puckeridge Hunt, Tim Bonner’s (CEO so called Countryside Alliance) home hunt (full report here) and the police on the day showed a combination of naivety and ignorance. They were naive in that they should never have accepted a ride on the back of a hunt terrier man’s quad bike because it looks very bad for them and puts into question their impartiality (especially when terrier men have no legitimate role in a trail hunt) and ignorant of the laws that were in question on the day. Claiming they have powers to take your details is of course complete nonsense (and we told them so) and asking us to leave private land is also a civil matter, it’s nothing to do with the police.

I explained the situation to them regarding the difference between criminal (illegal hunting) and civil (trespass) and we were exercising our right as citizens to prevent the criminal offence from taking place by trespassing. I don’t believe Hertfordshire Police were acting in bias of the hunt, the officers that attended were just not equipped with the right knowledge to make a reasonable call and unfortunately made bad snap decisions based on preconceived historical prejudice. I’ll be discussing the matter further with Herts rural WCO in due course.

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Herts Police being lied to (probably).

If you read though the report from other sab groups around the country some areas have what can only be described as truly biased forces. There’s forces are openly acting as a private security service and facilitating illegal hunting by their very actions. Norfolk Police would appear to be one of those forces. Our colleagues at Norfolk & Suffolk Hunt Sabs are fighting a constant battle not only against the hunters but also the local police force. Last weekend Norfolk Police arrested a sab at a meet of the Dunston Harriers for Aggravated Trespass.

The offence is as follows: A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land [in the open air] and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land [in the open air], does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect—

(a) of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity,

(b) of obstructing that activity, or

(c) of disrupting that activity.

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Norfolk Police riding on hunt terrier man’s quad bike.

Considering the sabs had earlier made calls to the police of illegal hunting which were completely ignored (they had already illegally killed a Hare and the hounds were covered in that animals blood) their claims could easily be justified and therefore the above offence cannot be considered by the police officers. In spite of this an arrest was made, the sab removed in handcuffs and spent several hours locked up in a cell.

Norfolk Police have also released the following statement:

Police were called to farmland in Roudham at about 12.20pm yesterday, Saturday 18 November, following reports of a confrontation involving two groups.

Officers attended and while at the scene, were advised of allegations that a hare had been killed. Both parties were spoken to and a search was carried out. No evidence was found. Anyone with evidence is asked to contact police on 101.

We are aware of images on social media of our officers on a quad bike. While recognising the concerns, the officers had been searching in fields and got into difficulty due to the muddy terrain. At this point, they were assisted by the landowner using a quad bike which at no point travelled on a public road or highway. 

This statement just stinks quite frankly. Regardless of whether the officers were on a public road or not it still shows a level of collusion with the hunt in question. It would also be a question as to whether the police would be insured to be riding around on such a vehicle in that manner. Also what evidence did they think they were going to find of a hare which had been pulled apart by a pack of hounds? The Dunston Harriers could have made up any old tale and it seems the police would have believed them. Remember in the case of AT the burden falls on the prosecution to prove that the activity being interfered with was legal, and in this case a claim had already been made to the contrary which was insufficiently investigated. (See similar case explained here)

Please contact Norfolk Police to complain.

Facebook: Norfolk Constabulary

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Email the chief constable Simon Bailey.

PCC Lorne Green: opccn@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

Another force which appears to be openly biased is Sussex Police. At the opening meet of the Crawley a& Horsham Hunt a saboteur was assaulted by huntsmen using their horses as weapons, a common tactic for hunts. Bearing my this particular hunt have been convicted in the past of illegal hunting its not a massive leap of faith to assume they would continue to do so. In this case the sab was arrested for assault on the hunters and – you’ll like this, criminal damage to the hunters pocket. Take a look at the video.

It’s very clear that the huntsman on the horse was acting aggressively to the sab and the sab was only trying to defend himself. In such instances serious injury and potentially worse can occur if the sab was knocked to the ground and trampled by the horse, he, and those with him had every right to take whatever action was required to keep themselves safe. It speaks volumes that when sabs or monitors make calls to the police very little is done, if anything at all and yet even when the hunters are the perpetrators of the crime the police will act swiftly in coming to their defence. Time for some more complaints.

Facebook: Sussex Police

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Cheif Constable Giles York Email.

PCC Katey Bourne: pcc@sussex-pcc.gov.uk

This level of inconsistent policing simply cannot be allowed to continue. We all know the Hunting Act needs strengthening but in the mean time we need to have a national policing initiative which will allow an even handed approach to all concerned along with better understanding of the laws in place. Forces showing an obvious bias should come under increased scrutiny and those responsible removed from their positions. Bias from various forces in nothing new and no doubt it will continue but with the overwhelming support of the British public we can get things changed so start emailing, commenting and tweeting, if its something the police don’t like it’s bad PR.

I bit of a long post today but please bear with me as it needs a detailed write up to do the subject justice.

You may remember last October (see here) I reported on an incident where four hunt saboteurs were arrested for Aggravated Trespass whilst coming to the aid of a Roe Deer which had been attacked by the hounds of the Surrey Union hunt. The defendants only had the welfare of the injured animal at heart and so entered the private land to aid the animal as best they could however the deer was subsequently destroyed by a member of the hunt. The case was heard this week and before I give the outcome I thought it best to go over the evidence supplied by both the prosecution and the defense.

The original police statement at the time was as follows:

“Surrey Police officers attended a location near Ewhurst on Saturday 25 October where the Surrey Union Hunt were taking part in an organised trail hunt.

At around 1pm, a small number of protestors entered onto a field adjacent to the hunt which was on private land. The group were warned by officers that they were trespassing and although given a clear direction to leave, they remained on the land.

Three men and a woman were arrested at the scene of suspicion of aggravated trespass contravening section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act and taken into custody. They were later released on conditional bail until November 21 and 22.

During the hunt, a deer was injured and subsequently had to be humanely put down. Officers at the scene investigated the circumstances and enquiries remain on-going. *The deer was discovered in a ditch which was bordered by brambles and barbed wire which early indications suggest may have caused the injuries it sustained.

There were no injuries on the deer or other evidence to suggest it had been attacked by the hounds. At this time no offences relating to the injuries sustained by the deer have been established.”

Before we cover the police statement which show’s a complete lack of knowledge and impartiality in it’s own right we’ll go over the statements provided. First of Mrs Dunsden (described in the statement as Hunt Leader) who states:

“The hunt was a trail hunt where a they had a previously scented trail for the hounds to follow. No live animals where to be hunted and if the hounds caught the scent of a live animal the master of the hounds would call off the dogs as per agreed procedure”. She goes on to note that “Protestors were present and some had their faces covered”. One particular part of the statement is quite interesting: “The hunts leader and members have provided statements confirming that hounds did not the hunt the deer and when they realised they had found a deer the hounds were called off”.

First off everyone knows the pre-laid scent trail story is nothing more than a cover to give an alibi for illegal hunting. It’s even been admitted as such by an anonymous huntsman in an article published by the Economist and the Surrey Union have killed again since this incident. This is why the hunting act needs to be strengthened to do away with this ridiculous situation and we need to have a police force which isn’t lead (or paid off) so easily by the hunts.

Regarding the second point and in terms of the case this is irrelevant and purely there to add a negative context with regards to the saboteurs.

Lastly the dog is a natural predator and a pack of dogs has a unique mentality which makes it more likely to want to hunt. Foxhounds are selectively bread to hunt, it’s their sole purpose in life and those that don’t make the grade are disposed off (usually a bullet to the head). Upon sighting or scenting a prey animal they will give chase, acting purely on instinct. I’ve seen fox hounds chasing deer many times, often beyond the control of the huntsman. I even supplied footage for the defense of this nature. But the question is, if the hounds weren’t hunting the deer why would they need to be called off? Surely if they weren’t hunting the deer it would have been ignored? Do we really think the hounds found a deer and then just stood there staring at it?

Hounds rioting on a Roe Deer

Foxhound, not chasing a deer.

This leads to the part of the statement by the police where they suggest the injuries caused to the animal were from barbed wire or brambles.

Well, the police are certainly not experts in this matter however Andrew Knight BSc. (Vet. Biol.), BVMS, CertAW, DipECAWBM (AWSEL), PhD, MRCVS, SFHEA – Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Winchester certainly is. In his independent report he states:

“The deer was also recumbent on its back. A large (approximately 4 cm) puncture wound was visible in the groin region, and the surrounding fur was matted with fluid and clearly bloodied, demonstrating marked, recent trauma. The large size of the puncture wound, and the amount of bleeding evident, were highly consistent with a dog attack.

The appearance of the skin and fur in this case were very strongly consistent with such causation. The likelihood of alternate causes such as fences, barbed wire or brambles vary from extremely unlikely to completely implausible”.

So the expert opinion clearly states that the injuries to the deer were not caused by any brambles or barbed wire. The negligence however doesn’t end there. The deer, now clearly in significant distress and unable to move is now subjected to considerable torment. Many sabs have wildlife care experience and those on the scene were the best placed to deal with the casualty before professional help arrived however, they were being arrested and the deer was left in the hands of possibly the least qualified person available, the hunts terrier man. These people deal in suffering, they care little for their own animals (who in their right mind would send their dog down a hole to fight another animal?) let alone a wild one in a state of severe distress and badly injured.

Having seen the police video of the incident I’m in no doubt all those present were grossly negligent and in no way acting with the best interests of the animal at heart. It was picked up by it’s legs, roughly handled, knelt on and at one point they also attempted to force it to run away. It was clear to anyone with half a brain that this animal was going nowhere and was showing all the signs of extreme stress.

Andrew Knight continues: “Additionally, it was clear at this stage, and shortly afterwards in the video, that the deer was unable to bear weight on it’s right hind leg. This occurred despite the close presence of humans, which would normally cause any wild deer capable of doing so, to flee. Such inability to weight-bear indicates very serious injury. When such injury has been inflicted from trauma, as in this case, the most likely cause is a fracture.

The footage also showed this deer displaying open-mouthed breathing and rapid breathing. These signs indicate a very high level of distress. Given the deer’s physical state the most likely cause of this would have been extreme pain. Due to the large number of pain receptors in the membrane immediately adjacent to bone, fractures are extremely painful. Another likely cause would have been extreme fear in the close presence of people whom the deer could not escape, which would have been even greater had the deer been recently attacked.

Despite the deer’s obviously severely injured and distressed state, there were several instances of inappropriate handling which would have worsened its condition. At one stage the deer was moved by being lifted by its legs and subsequently hung by its limbs. This would have been intensely painful if a fracture had been present, and would have probably added to the deer’s injuries, through tearing, stretching or weakening ligaments and muscles, and potentially further displacing bones or bony fragments. It would also have worsened the deer’s respiratory difficulties. In another example a person restrained the deer by kneeling on its chest, which would have been very distressing and may also have interfered with breathing, which was clearly already taxed.

The unfortunate deer

The unfortunate deer, note the blood and fur at the scene.

This deer was obviously severely injured. It should have been gently approached, and the eyes covered to simulate darkness. Noise should have been kept to a minimum. The deer should have been maintained in a natural position and gently covered with an appropriate material to maintain warmth, whilst awaiting veterinary attention. Should movement have been deemed necessary the deer should have been gently moved into sternal or lateral recumbency (ie, lying on its belly or side), and gently carried, perhaps on a stretcher. None of these steps were implemented in the video footage I viewed, and veterinary attention did not appear to have been requested by phone or in any other way.

Instead, medical assessments appear to have been made by a person described in the video as a terrier man. Without any reasonable attempt to examine the deer, such as gentle palpation, and apparently based on visual examination alone, this person attributed the deer’s obviously distressed state to it’s being “tired,” and declared the deer to be “unfit.” “I think the easiest option is to dispatch it,” he said. This was indeed one of the easiest options, but it was certainly not the best option. Far from being unfit, this deer appeared to be in good body condition. It is entirely possible that after appropriate veterinary attention this deer might have eventually recovered from its serious physical injuries, allowing its release back into the wild.

Instead of giving the deer this chance, it was shot with a captive bolt pistol. In such animals the target area containing the brain is quite small, and the correct location is sometimes misunderstood. If the target area is missed, extreme pain and a prolonged death can result. Accordingly, immediately after use of a captive bolt pistol, death should be confirmed via a stethoscope (detecting the absence of a heartbeat), and by confirming signs of death such as lack of breathing, pupillary dilation, and lack of ocular reflexes. No attempt was made to conduct any such examination in this animal. Instead, only seven seconds after being shot, the deer was once again hung by its legs and moved. If the deer had in fact remained conscious at this point, this experience would once again have been extremely distressing”.

So we have an animal that may have been destroyed unnecessarily, that was handled very badly by an unqualified person after being attacked by dogs which was being denied by the hunt. The situation doesn’t get any better.

Having read through all the witness statements including those from the police and spoken at length with the defendants one thing becomes abundantly clear. The police were acting on claims from the hunt and ignoring all word from the saboteurs present about the situation that had arisen. The police took the hunt at their word and failed so completely in seeing the bigger picture that a sentient mammal suffered the most unnecessary of ends. Yes the defendants were on private land and yes they had been asked to leave however the hunt were clearly acting in contravention of the Hunting with Dogs Act 2004 and an animal had clearly been attacked by the hounds of the hunt. For a Section 69 to be applicable you have to be interfering with a legal activity and this obviously wasn’t the case. Coming to the aid of an injured animal could also in no way be construed as unlawful interference, the hunt were obviously clearly aware of what had transpired and were desperate to cover it up and so the best way to do this was with the aid of the police present at the scene. With only the welfare of the animal in their minds the defendants ignored the warnings issued by the police to leave in an attempt to attend to the injured animal and were subsequently arrested.

Pro hunt comments on Facebook

Pro hunt comments on Facebook

As the defendants were being arrested they were cuffed and paraded in front of the hunt support where they were photographed by a hunter who passed them on to a certain Joanna McCarthy with a message to share them far and wide. She then proceeded to published them on social media in a pro hunt group and the usual barrage of insults and threats towards those being arrested was soon to follow. This kind of totally unprofessional policing once again implies the police are indeed way too close to the hunt and acting on their behalf regardless of the evidence in front of them and as you can see from the comments in the image above, the pro hunt lobby are showing their true light.

The case was heard over the 24th and 25th of March.

I can now confirm that all the defendants were acquitted. It was also noted in court that had the defendants been allowed access to the animal the outcome may have been significantly different.

Judge Turner concludes:

“All of you contribute immensely to society not only in the working lives but in your free time. [on the day] You deserve high praise for managing yourselves and your behaviour.” and “(name removed)”: you are a remarkable man.” ALL NOT GUILTY

This is of course excellent news but the fact it actually made it to court is, too the say least an unnecessary waste of time and money. Perhaps in the future the police will listen to the right people and more importantly than any costs incurred, animals lives can be saved.