Fox hunt supporters given suspended prison sentences for brutal attack on League Against Cruel Sports investigators
Litigation - Article Series from All-Creatures.org Articles Archive

FROM

League Against Cruel Sports
June 2018

The attack took place on 12 March 2016 close to the village of Stathern in Leicestershire and involved the two convicted men and four unidentified masked men who punched and then pushed Darryl and Roger off a 14-foot ridge before escaping with one of their cameras.

Darryl Cunnington
Darryl being attended by paramedic

As you may already be aware, two years ago our professional investigators Darryl Cunnington and Roger Swaine were assaulted by staff of the Belvior Hunt. Darryl, a former police officer, had his neck broken in three places during the assault, which took place as they monitored the activities of the hunt.

Last Thursday, two men received suspended prison sentences Leicester Crown Court for seriously assaulting Roger and Darryl.

Lady Sarah McCorquodale, older sister of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, joint master of the Belvoir Hunt and former High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, gave a character reference in court for George Grant, one of the men being sentenced.

George Grant, the Belvoir Hunt terrier man, and his son Thomas Grant – both of whom pleaded guilty to charges of grievous bodily harm on investigator Darryl, actual bodily harm on our investigator Roger, theft of a video camera and criminal damage of a memory card – received the following sentences:

  • For the charges of grievous bodily harm to Darryl, both received 18 months imprisonment with 25 per cent discount making 13 months and two weeks suspended for two years.
  • Additionally, over the next 12 months they have to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work and to pay a victims surcharge.
  • For the charges of Actual Bodily Harm to Roger and theft of camera and damage to a SD card, a three months custodial sentence to run concurrently, suspended for two years for both of them. Both have to pay £500 compensation to Darryl to be paid in full within 28 days.

The attack took place on 12 March 2016 close to the village of Stathern in Leicestershire and involved the two convicted men and four unidentified masked men who punched and then pushed Darryl and Roger off a 14-foot ridge before escaping with one of their cameras.

Our Director of Investigations, Martin Sims, and former Head of the Police’s British National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “The people who are employed by or support hunts often act like gangsters and this case illustrates what a dark and menacing blight they are on the countryside. The hunts are a barbaric throwback to crueller times and should have no place in a modern, compassionate society. “The fact that both guilty men made 'no comment' throughout this investigation shows their lack of courage when confronted with the part they played in this brutal and unprovoked attack on our professional investigators. Why didn’t the hunt come forward with the names of the people who escaped prosecution when in court today it was stated that those individuals had been given the role of shadowing the investigators?”

Four other individuals were involved in this attack on Daryl and Roger and the League will consider a reward for any information that leads to their conviction - get in touch with our Animal Crimewatch team.

Our Head of Field Operations, Darryl Cunnington, said: “l am very lucky that the assault has left me with no long-term serious injuries. After falling fourteen feet, finding myself unable to move, I feared I was paralysed. The offenders refused to cooperate with the police and showed no remorse or concern. They must both think they are very fortunate not to have gone to prison today.”

Our Field Operator, Roger Swaine, who was also assaulted, said: “The Investigations team have a policy of non-interference and we are there purely to record any hunting or other cruelty offences. We were filming the Belvoir Hunt from a public bridleway from a distance of 1km. This violent response by an employee of the Hunt and five others was unprovoked and a complete overreaction.”

The East Midland BBC Inside Out programme filmed with the investigators during the 2016 fox hunting season and took footage of the aftermath of the assault and shared it on their Facebook account.

The case comes 14 years after fox hunting was banned in England and Wales with the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004 which came into force in 2005. Our professional investigators monitor hunts across the UK to obtain evidence that they are still illegally chasing and killing foxes, hares and deer.

Our Interim CEO, Andy Knott, said: “We are proud of Darryl and Roger – their courage and integrity stands head and shoulders above the people that attacked them.”

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