Senior huntsman is found guilty of animal cruelty charges
Senior huntsman is found guilty of animal cruelty charges after being secretly recorded tossing live fox cubs into kennels for hounds to eat
- Paul Oliver, 40, was a master of hounds with the South Herefordshire Hunt
- He was filmed throwing foxes to his dogs before their carcasses were dumped
- Oliver and his partner Hannah Rose, 30, were found guilty of animal cruelty
Paul Oliver, 40, has been found guilty of animal cruelty charges after he was secretly filmed tossing live fox cubs into kennels for their hounds to eat
A senior huntsman and his partner have been found guilty of animal cruelty charges after being secretly filmed tossing live fox cubs into kennels for their hounds to eat.
Paul Oliver, 40, was captured in harrowing footage throwing the animals for his dogs to ravage before their carcasses were later found dumped in a wheelie bin.
The former master of hounds with the South Herefordshire Hunt was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty after a judge rejected his claim that he had relocated two fox cubs in the wild.
Oliver’s partner Hannah Rose, 30, who worked for the hunt as a kennel maid, also went on trial alongside terrierman Nathan Parry, 40, who was acquitted.
Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that Oliver had been secretly filmed preparing to feed the foxes to his hunt hounds at the kennels in Wormelow, Herefordshire, the court heard.
Anti-hunt activists contacted police after installing hidden cameras at the South Herefordshire Hunt kennels in May 2016.
The covert recordings were played to the court which showed Oliver carrying a fox cub into the kennels as hounds can be heard barking.
Minutes later he is seen emerging from the kennel and dumping the dead animal into a commercial bin before spraying it with a liquid.
Oliver was captured in harrowing footage throwing the animals for his dogs to ravage before their carcasses were later found dumped in a wheelie bin
The footage also showed a stick with a noose attached, known as a grasper, being used by Oliver, who had previously been a senior member of Cornwall’s Western Hunt.
The defendants claimed the animals had been killed before being given to the dogs by a blow to the head with an axe.
But District Judge Joanna Dickens told the pair she did not believe their account of events and found them both guilty following a week long trial.
Opening the case at the start of the trial, prosecutor Simon Davis said: ‘The unnecessary suffering involved the killing of fox cubs, effectively feeding the animals… throwing the fox cubs into the kennels of the fox hounds, thereby killing them.’
Rose wept in the dock as she was convicted of the charge while her long-term partner Oliver remained emotionless.
Oliver’s partner Hannah Rose, 30, who worked for the hunt as a kennel maid, also went on trial
Minutes later he is seen emerging from the kennel and dumping the dead animal into a commercial bin before spraying it with a liquid
The judge said that Oliver stated farmers had been complaining about foxes on their land and that he would refer them to Parry to relocate them.
The judge said: ‘Mr Parry believed the fox cubs were going to be relocated and had no knowledge of their deaths.
‘I accepted Rose wasn’t directly involved in the killing of the cubs.’
The court heard how an animal rights investigator captured the moment the fox cubs were fed to the dogs after placing a magnetic tracker on a Land Rover.
Karl Garside said covert cameras were installed near white trailers on site of SHH Kennels, where he also found a fox cub in a cage.
Rose wept in the dock as she was convicted of the charge while her long-term partner Oliver remained emotionless
Giving evidence from behind a screen Mr Gardside said: ‘Fox hunting was banned in 2005, so we put the camera in there to establish why the fox cub was in there.
‘On May 16, 2016, a man can be seen carrying a fox cub out of the back of the trailer and then you can hear the noises of hounds barking.
‘In the early hours of the morning on May 26, 2016 I went back to the kennels and we found two alive fox cubs in the cage on the ground.
‘A man in a black T-shirt with a cap on can be seen carrying a fox cub by the scruff of its neck at 10.19am.
‘Another camera caught a different angle of the fox cub being taken on May 27, 2016.
The judge said that Oliver stated farmers had been complaining about foxes on their land and that he would refer them to Parry to relocate them
‘The man with the cap can be seen putting the dead fox into a bin. He is then seen taking another fox cub into the kennel.
‘He is then seen spraying something onto the foxes in the bin, we went the to site later and saw the fox cubs in the bin, they looked blue.’
Giving verdicts in the case, the judge cleared terrierman Nathan Parry, who did not work for the hunt, of causing suffering to four foxes.
Parry, aged 40, of Brynarw estate near Abergavenny, took the foxes to the kennels but was found not guilty after the judge accepted that he believed they would be relocated in the wild.
Giving evidence from behind a screen Mr Gardside said: ‘He is then seen spraying something onto the foxes in the bin, we went the to site later and saw the fox cubs in the bin, they looked blue’
Julie Elmore, aged 55, of Brynarw estate near Abergavenny, and Paul Reece, 48, from Itton, near Chepstow in south Wales, admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering before the trial.
Following the conviction, animal rights campaigners condemned the hunt members for throwing fox cubs to the hounds to give them a ‘taste for blood.’
Martin Sims, director of investigation at The League Against Cruel Sports said: ‘We believe the incidents show that hunts are clearly still hunting as the poor fox cubs were thrown into the kennels to give the hounds a taste for blood.
‘The barbarity of these incidents is sickening and will horrify the vast majority of the British public who are overwhelmingly opposed to fox hunting.
‘This case shows that fox hunting is a horrendously cruel and brutal activity which needs to be consigned to the history books.
Deborah Marshall, spokesperson for the Hunt Investigation Team, added: ‘This case has taken far too long to come to court and we have faced false allegations against investigators and obstruction throughout. We are glad that justice has finally taken its course.
‘The capture of fox cubs to be used to train hounds is nothing new and is widespread across Britain, as is the mass destruction of healthy hounds to make way for younger ones.’
Oliver and Rose, are expected to be sentenced this afternoon.
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