Nottingham

Grove and Rufford Hunt members fined after illegal fox killing

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Media captionFootage of an illegal fox hunt captured by birdwatchers was used in a trial.

Three people have been fined for illegal hunting after their actions were recorded by birdwatchers.

Paul Larby, 58, Peter White, 57, and Jane Wright, 63, of the Grove and Rufford Hunt, insisted their dogs were on a trail when they stumbled on a fox.

But the footage, taken at Laneham, Nottinghamshire in January 2016, showed no attempt to call the hounds off.

All were convicted at Mansfield Magistrates' Court of hunting a mammal with dogs.

Including costs, Larby was fined £1,128, White £853 and Wright £448.

Image caption Paul Larby, Peter White and Jane Wright denied the charge of hunting a mammal with dogs

White, from Kneesall, Nottinghamshire, gave evidence of six trails he said he laid on the morning of the incident.

Larby, a huntsman from Barmby Moor, and Wright, a hunt volunteer from Lound, both in Nottinghamshire, told the court they had been following a trail when the fox jumped out of a hedge in front of them.

It was chased and killed by the dogs before they could intervene, they said.

The prosecution claimed no-one saw the trails being laid and the hounds had run across roads - which trails are not laid across.

Birdwatcher Philip Palmer told the trial a fox was chased by a pack of 45 hounds in view of members of the hunt.

Both Larby and Wright were in the field, but Mr Palmer said he heard no attempt to call the dogs off.

District Judge Timothy Spruce said: "There is good and compelling evidence that the hunt was aware of the fox, but it appears there is no evidence that hounds were directed away."

The League Against Cruel Sports said it was the first case it was aware of where footage from members of the public was used to secure a conviction.

But a spokesperson for the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance said it believed the evidence showed they were "hunting within the law" and the trio may appeal.

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