Posts Tagged ‘Conviction Appeal’

Well after a brief break from blogging and another trip north of the border in what had to be the coldest week of the summer (it barely got above 13-14°C for the whole week) I’m back to catch up with whats been going on.

One story which obviously came to my attention was the death of 10 hounds and the injury to a cyclist after the collision with a car. The hounds in question belonged to the Cottesmore Hunt, you may remember them from a season ago when their terrier men assaulted sabs and one of their supporters brandished a heavy chain, swinging it wildly like a maniac which could have caused serious injury had it connected with its intended target  (incidentally no charges were forthcoming from Leicestershire Police, surprise surprise).

Obviously no-one from either side of the hunting debate would wish a tragic event like this but one has to question the reality of the situation and the reaction from supporters of hunting. While I don’t know the full details the hunt supporters were very quick to apportion blame, both on the driver of the vehicle and, you guessed it – sabs.

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Where the incident happened

It’s very easy to jump to conclusion without knowing the full facts however having observed hounds being exercised and transferred along country roads you have to question the sense and logic behind how this takes place. Having a kennel man on a bicycle with a whip on what is likely to be a bendy country road with a full pack of hounds (probably at least 15 couple) is obviously a recipe for disaster. Dogs do not have any idea of road safety and that many hounds could easily fill a narrow country lane and with these on a blind bend then the outcome is hardly surprising. This isn’t the first time hounds have been killed while being exercised (see here ) and I have no doubt it won’t be the last. Was the driver speeding as the hunt supporters claim or were they merely an innocent party going about their business who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

What was even more laughable were the claims that this was actually the work of sabs. Just think about that for a moment. A sab intentionally drove their vehicle at speed into a pack of hounds.

To say it’s utterly ridiculous is an understatement.

First off most sabs are vegans. Harming any animal goes against the very ethos of veganism and the ideal by which we live. We believe hounds are as big a victim of hunting as the animals they are trained and forced to hunt. Even ignoring this the legal ramifications of potentially losing ones license make the stupidity of those actions only bettered by the morons who suggested it in the first place. Here are a few of those comments posted on a pro hunting Facebook group.

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Aren’t they all just wonderful? One has to question where and how this rumour started? The same old tired and jaded stereotypical opinions such as claims of being hypocrits and their usual favourite (terrorists) are being wheeled out once more without any shred of evidence to support the claims but then this is of course nothing new and hardly unexpected.

As it turns out this proved to be somewhat of an embarrassment for that particular group and it had to delete all the comments blaming sabs and publish a post contradicting all those slathering hunt supporters looking to blame.

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Well at least that’s cleared up then but was the driver really out of control? It should also be noted that the driver of the vehicle hasn’t been charged with any traffic offences so the police clearly believe none had taken place which would suggest the claims by the hunt that they were out of control are also innacurate. Regardless of that what are the necessary requirement for exercising a large number of hound on a public road? I’m fairly sure Joe public would’t be allowed to walk a large number of dogs who weren’t controlled by a lead on a public highway. As hunting hounds come under the classification of working dogs the same laws don’t apply – perhaps they should.

Finally the longest hunting case in history (I made that up but it certainly feels like it) will be resolved on the 14th January 2019, a full 3 years after the offence took place. This will be the appeal of convicted Fitzwilliam huntsman George Adams. Let’s hope we can get this written into case law at the crown court and finally the ridiculous Bird of Prey Exemption can be written into history.

 

At least I did, but apparently not.

I thought I’d written my last piece on the Fitzwilliam case as I explained here. However I have been informed by the court witness liaison that George Adams is going to appeal his conviction. This immediately bought into question the issue of the time limit for any appeal. As already stated in my blog post previously this is 21 days and those 21 days have long since past. I have asked the witness liaison to question this and he will be getting back to me in due course. Further examination of this rule was clearly required and indeed there is an option to apply to a Crown Court for permission to appeal.

At the time of writing I can’t be sure that the appeal wasn’t submitted within the 21 day limit and it has just taken this long to filter back to me however even by British Judiciary standards this would seem to be excessively slow. If indeed it was submitted after the date and permission for an appeal needs to be sought then I would imagine they would have to cite some fairly important reasons to justify this and there is still possibility this will be thrown out before any trial hearing.

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George Adams – (Photo by Terry Harris)

So what does this mean?

Well, assuming it goes ahead then the case will be reheard in a Crown Court. This is a hugely risky strategy for the so called Countryside Alliance. Bearing in mind the original case was heard by a District Judge and not a normal Magistrate (which would normally be the case) the original decision may have more bearing. Also should the decision once again go against them the verdict will be written into case law, all hunts which use the Bird of Prey Exemption will have to use another method to circumnavigate the law as that one will have been proven in a Crown Court to be illegal. One wonders why the CA would put that at risk? Are they really that desperate to clear a retired huntsman’s name? Is it in fact the hunt which are pushing this to clear themselves of having a conviction next to the name? I’ve no doubt there will be a team of expensive lawyers in an office somewhere pawing over the law books looking for a chink of light with which they think they can overturn the original conviction. Both the CA and the Fitzwilliam certainly have the necessary resources to alloy this.

The only real concern is a more sympathetic judge for the defence. It wouldn’t be the first time a less than impartial member of the judiciary has ruled in a Hunting Act case and I doubt it will be the last. We can only hope that if it does go to court once again we get the same outcome with an impartial judge and we strengthen our case on this particular part of the Hunting Act. One has to wonder what their angle of attack will be considering the complete failure of the previous defence. I guess we’ll wait and see.

UPDATE: After a further conversation with the court liaison it would appear that the appeal was submitted just within the time limit. Apparently there was some sort of delay between the submission to the Magistrates Court for the appeal and that transferring to the Crown. Well, I’m going back to court . . .