Two huntsmen men were found guilty last week of illegally hunting deer with hounds.
Richard Down and Adrian Pillivantof the Quantock Staghounds were convicted at Bristol Magistrates' Court after anti-hunt campaigners filmed two hounds chasing deer on Exmoor. The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) said the deer were chased for more than an hour. Both men had denied contravening the Hunting Act, which came into force in February 2005.
District Judge David Parson said that that men were ‘hunting for sport and recreation to continue their way of life and (were) disingenuous in attempting to deceive me into believing that they were exempt from hunting.’
The LACS said it launched the prosecution because no attempt was made to shoot the deer humanely or call off the hounds during the hunt. Indeed, the League had played the court video evidence of a number deer being chased with dogs at a hunt meet at Longstone Hill, Somerset, last February.
Down and Pillivant had maintained that they had been hunting the deer within the law.
The Judge fined both men £500 and ordered them to pay £1,000 each as a contribution towards costs. He said: "Neither defendant has established on the balance of probability that he reasonably believed the hunting was exempt.
Richard Furlong, representing the League, had told the court: "They made no attempt to call the dogs off. The facts of this case are that no reasonable person could have believed this was exempt from the Hunting Act. They made no attempt to control the dogs."