Huntsman Nicholas Bycroft of the Crawley and Horsham Foxhounds in West Sussex, England admitted in court last month to illegal foxhunting after being filmed by an animal rights activist.
A year ago, three members of the Crawley and Horsham, including the former huntsman, pleaded innocent of contravening the Hunting Act but were found guilty. Evidence against the accused included video clips furnished by an animal rights group.
Bycroft was given a year-long conditional discharge, ordered to pay costs of £150 and a victim surcharge of £15.
According to the Crawley and Horsham hunt, “Nick Bycroft has taken the decision not to contest the allegation made against him of illegal hunting.
"The Crawley and Horsham carries out trail hunting and exempt hunting and from time to time it is inevitable that the hunt will come across a fox.
"On this occasion it does seem the hounds did find a fox in cover. The fox was not hunted and was not caught by hounds.
"However, the Hunting Act is a draconian and complex law and Mr Bycroft has decided to plead guilty rather than go to trial.”
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In another court case in Somerset, Seavington huntsman David Parker admitted to illegally hunting a fox. The RSPCA is said to have spent £4,200 taking Parker to court, and was criticized for doing so by Parker’s solicitor Jamie Foster. This RSPCA has been on the receiving end of complaints from sportsmen’s groups for sometimes spending vast sums of contributors’ money to prosecute under the Hunting Act.
Foster said, “The hounds got on the scent of the fox, but were never in sight of it....The fox escaped and was not harmed.
“Instead of trying to stop the hounds from chasing the fox, in a moment of madness David Parker blew his horn and encouraged them on.
“In the moral pantheon of criminal law it falls somewhere between littering and not paying for your TV licence.
“The RSPCA asked the court for a bill of more than £4,700 to be paid. The court ruled £500 should be paid instead, so they have spent more than £4,200 on a prosecution which should never have been brought.
“That money could have been spent helping animals, which is why people donate to the charity, rather than on this unnecessary court case.”
Posted October 4, 2013