Northumberland huntsmen guilty of illegal fox hunting
Three members of a hunt have been found guilty of illegally hunting a fox.
Timothy Smalley, Ian McKie and Andrew Proe of the College Valley and North Northumberland Hunt were convicted of hunting a wild mammal with dogs and fined at Berwick Magistrates' Court.
Smalley, McKie and Proe were secretly filmed by the League Against Cruel Sports hunting a fox after their dogs had disturbed it.
They were found not guilty of a second illegal hunting charge.
That charge related to the same day, 27 February, near Lowick.
Joint master Smalley, huntsman McKie and kennel huntsman Proe were secretly filmed by the League Against Cruel Sports hunting a fox after their dogs had disturbed it.
The men claimed that at no point had they intentionally gone after the wild animal but were following a laid scent.
But the footage showed the fox running, the hounds giving chase and then Smalley raising his hat as a signal to his fellow hunters.
District Judge Bernard Begley said: "You are all very experienced members of the hunt who should have known better, which increases your culpability."
He said Smalley's claim that he had not been remotely concerned because the hounds had gone off in a slightly different direction to the fox was "naive in the extreme".
In raising his hat he had effectively declared that the hunt was on, the judge said, and was central to everything that had unfolded.
Smalley, 53, from Bowsden, was fined £2,075 and ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge, while McKie, 56, from Wooler, was given a fine of £1,150 and a £115 victim surcharge.
Proe, 52, of Mindrum, was fined £480 and must pay a £48 victim surcharge, and each man must pay a further £385 in costs.