Posts Tagged ‘Mark Vincent’

I’ve been a bit quiet recently but I make no apologies for that, it’s a busy time of year for everyone but add on the responsibility of the continued fight against the wildlife abusers and time becomes very tight indeed. But like the TV other other media outlets I thought I’d have a look back over the year to see how things have progressed and I might even make a few predictions for the future. So how did 2019 go?

In January the big story was the release of the video which showed the Kimblewick‘s terrier man and Chairman, Ian Parkinson and Mark Vincent dragging a fox from an artificial earth and throwing it in front of the hounds. The case would finally get to court a full 11 months later where both were found guilty and given suspended jail sentences. (full story here).

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February saw the Thurlow trial delayed once again, much to the frustration of all concerned however the reason was just a sick judge and not so-called Countryside Alliance skullduggery.

March saw us finally in court for the Thurlow trial and after 3 days we secured the conviction we were after. (Full story here). That wasn’t the end of the case however. As expected they appealed the conviction (as hunts always do) so it would be another date in court later in the year.

Speaking of appeals it was the end of April and we were back in court once again for the Fitzwilliam case. There was the addition of the highly questionable “expert witness” from the defence team but he proved worthless in the grand scheme of things and once again we won another hard fought victory (see here). Although the sentence was pathetic it was a huge moral victory over a hunt which remember spent over £120,000 on a worthless injunction in an effort to hide their criminal activities.

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Guilty – Ex Fitzwilliam Huntsam George Adams

The South Herefordshire Hunt case finally reached a conclusion and some highly questionable practices by West Mercia Police were also to come under the spotlight in an effort to scupper any further legal proceedings (full story here). As expected the hunting side made some rather pathetic noises in their defence but without doubt the tide would appear to be turning.

In June I received the written ruling on the Fitzwilliam case (see here). I was hoping this would effectively mean the end of hunts using the Bird of Prey Exemption within the Hunting Act. The ruling and the definitions within it were very clear but it seems some hunts are still claiming exempt hunting by parading a bird of prey around and even though it should be much easier to prove illegal hunting the authorities seem somewhat reluctant to get involved.  It should be very easy to stop this, remember any pursuit of the quarry by the hounds is illegal once that animal is flushed, and yet it’s still going on.

Big changes seemed to be taking place within the hunting hierarchy, something I picked up on last August with Lord Mancroft seemingly at odds with the rest of the CA’s top brass. Any internal disagreement in the hunting fraternity was obviously good news as far as I was concerned.

As we moved into autumn the cubbing season started but also the NFU and Government’s badger eradication policy. This blog started with the badger culls and it’s an absolute disgrace that after all this time it’s still going on. The fight continues.

In October we were in court once again for the Thurlow appeal although that had some unexpected twists in the tail. Although the pompous little Archie Clifton-Brown got off his assault charge we secured the conviction for the hunting act case against Chris Amatt after he did a deal with the prosecution, something we were only too happy to agree to and for the first time in several years I was free from outstanding legal proceedings (full story here). Archie is still knocking about with his Uncle Vesty at the Thurlow, although now he seems to have his own security wannabe in tow. I wonder what he’s scared of?

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Archie dressed as an old man. Photo courtesy of Suffolk & Essex Sabs

As mentioned earlier the Kimblewick were in court in November and we all had a good laugh at a rather pathetic attempt by the CA to show trail hunting and make some frankly daft claims against sabs. I took this apart and for some reason the video produced by the hunt side was also taken down. Obviously they were pretty embarrassed by it but you’d have thought they’d have looked at it properly before splashing it all over social media (see here).

And that was pretty much it.

In the fields hunts are still killing foxes and they are largely still getting away with it however the successes in the courts over the past year have proved that they are certainly not having everything their own way. While the election result was disappointing it will not change anything from my perspective. It’s still very much business as usual and the same can be said for all the wildlife protectors out there. What I think is important is that even now the hunting community accept they are on a downward spiral and are trying desperately to maintain their cruel way of life. After a fabulously concerted campaign by West Midlands Hunt Sabs the Atherston went to the wall taking a beagle pack with it. Hunt attendances are down despite claims to the contrary and even the Government accepts that hunting is a toxic issue as there is no mention of a repeal of the act in their plans for the future. Having said that Boris is a pathological liar and he’s appointed ex-CA attack dog Simon Hart to the cabinet as minister for Wales.

Hunting isn’t going away any time soon. However I can see more mergers of hunts in the future as hunt country becomes scarcer and attendances drop. They may try and paint this as a win but ultimately it’ll be one less pack of hounds marauding around the countryside. Remember the Kimblewick are an amalgamation of 4 hunts. I also have a feeling a pack very local to me is in some serious trouble and we’ll be doing our very best to help it along the way and consign it to history.

So that just leaves me to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and I’ll update you with all the action over the festive period in due course. Why not get out there on Boxing Day and find your local hunt demo and voice you opinion against them. A list can be found (here). There’s also one for the Kimblewick, details here.

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You may remember back in January I blogged about the Kimblewick being caught red handed pulling a fox from an artificial earth and throwing it in front of the hounds (see here). The pair involved were the hunt’s terrier man Ian Parkinson and the hunt President Mark Vincent. They were subsequently charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a fox under the Animal Welfare Act.

On Wednesday 30th of October they stood trial at Oxford Magistrates Court with District Judge Kamlesh Rana presiding.

I wasn’t at court on the day (I’ve seen enough of courts for the time being) but I have received detailed notes from someone who was so I’ll try and put together a straightforward account of the proceedings and highlight the relevant points so grab a cuppa and settle in.

First off a bit of background to the case. Undercover footage was supplied to the Hunt Saboteurs Association which clearly showed 2 men, forcing a fox from an artificial earth using drain rods and then dragging it by the tail before throwing it to be chased by the hounds of the Kimblewick hunt. You can clearly hear the huntsman making “hold hard” commands, waiting for the fox to be released. There is clear communication between the pair in the video and the huntsman.

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It is unknown what became of the fox.

The law states: It is an offence to; cause unnecessary suffering to a protected animal or, if being responsible for a protected animal, to permit any unnecessary suffering to be caused to any such animal (Section 62, Animal Welfare Act 2006).

As this is an animal welfare case it was clear a large majority of the court time would be spent arguing about the context of what happened and if indeed the welfare of the animal was compromised. This would come down to the 2 expert witnesses, both veterinary surgeons, David Martin in the case of the prosecution and a certain Stephen Lomax who also acted for the defence in the South Herefordshire Hunt case and was also prosecuted for careless driving, someone who’s credibility would seem to be in doubt even before the start of the case.

The incident all happened on land know as the ‘Big Willows’ and belonged to a Robert Stevens. His statement confirmed he was aware the hunt were using his land but not what they were up to. Whether this was actually the case or not is open to speculation but his answer is realistically the only one he could give, admitting you knew an illegal act was taking place and with your tacit knowledge is likely to lead to your own prosecution through joint venture. One has to consider whether any land owner would know what is taking place on their land and indeed the presence of artificial earths, a structure which needs significant work and disruption to the ground.

As Lomax explained in court, artificial earths are used to encourage foxes into an area with the idea that they will take up residence in the earth. He went on to explain that there would be 2 possible reasons for someone to pull a fox from an artificial earth. Firstly so a gamekeeper can shoot it for pest control reasons and secondly so it can be hunted.

Before we cover further testimony of the expert witnesses we should hear about another witness who’s identity is being withheld for security reasons. The witness had gone to the town square to see the hunt on the day in question. They noted there were about 30 riders and of course the hounds. It was here they overheard a conversation between Andrew Sallis (joint master and huntsman on the day in question as well columnist for Horse and Hound) and a hunt supporter. Sallis had told this supporter there will be a “fox out” Moreton way so that’s where they should go. Up to this point the witness believed that they would be seeing a genuine trail hunt. They saw the hunt leave and head towards Moreton.

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Andrew Sallis – Horse and Hound

This is of course pretty damning as it clearly implies that the whole episode was planned well in advance, several people were aware of what was going to transpire and they were telling people where the action would be.

When the video came to light Vincent and Parkinson were identified and interviewed under caution by PC Darren James, a Wildlife Crime Officer with Thames Valley Police. Both defendants confirmed they worked for the Kimblewick but then offered no comment interviews. This isn’t surprising as most people when arrested will be advised to give a no comment interview by any decent legal representative.

PC James visited the site of the artificial earth and took photos for evidential purposes however the photos of the earth submitted by Lomax appeared to be significantly different. These photos showed that the earth had been completely destroyed, someone had clearly been there in an attempt to hide the evidence. The fact the earth had been destroyed clearly put significant doubt in the judge’s mind as to the validity of the report which was submitted by Lomax on the subject.

In terms of the welfare of the fox several points must be proved, firstly if it was to be considered protected it must be under the control of man. As the earth was blocked at both ends the fox was effectively being held captive and no longer in a free state. Therefore it would indeed be under the control of man, whether this state is permanent or temporary.

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We now have to consider the potential suffering of the animal and this is where the expert witnesses came in.

Lomax stated that foxes were resilient and tolerant of adverse circumstances. He admitted that holding one by the tail is not ideal however also said that holding the tail and hind legs would be fine and the best way to avoid being bitten. He went on to claim that while the fox may have been in some discomfort it was not suffering unduly. He believed the fox was being handled in this way in the video as it was hanging vertically and saw it’s legs come down once it was released.

He went on to state that the hounds being close by would not have scared the fox or caused it any suffering, even adding that he had seen foxes going into hunt kennels although he did admit that it was entirely possible that it was being released to be hunted. When questioned further on his dislike for foxes Lomax stated “I like foxes more than badgers”. He also admitted that he was a hunt follower.

The prosecution expert witness David Martin obviously saw things differently. He stated that the handling in the video would have caused both mental and physical suffering. As the fox was pulled out quite forcefully by its tail there was the potential for dislocation and the stretching of nerves which would lead to further suffering.

Neither Parkinson or Vincent took the stand.

The court finding were very clear.

1. The video showed that the fox was trapped by man.

2. Audio confirmed the drain rods made contact with the fox which was then pulled by its tail and thrown.

3. The court accepts the animal was under the control of man and therefore protected.

4. The testimony of Mr Martin was more detailed, whereas Mr Lomax was vague and more concerned with minimizing the offence. 

Any sentence has to adhere to guidelines set out in law. In this case the judge will have to consider:

1. The deliberate and pre-planned nature of the offence.

2. The aggravating circumstances, in this case why the fox was held and then released – to be hunted with hounds.

3. The actions to assist an illegal activity (hunting with hounds).

Regardless of the fact neither defendant had any previous convictions (they’d just never been caught before) the judge took the view that this would cross the threshold of sentencing guidelines necessary for a custodial sentence.

They will be sentenced on the 26th November.