Pair on trial accused of illegal fox hunting and assaulting saboteur

Bill Simpson was due to stand trial at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT

Bill Simpson was due to stand trial at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Two men have gone on trial for allegedly assaulting a hunt saboteur after a fox was killed by hounds on a Suffolk estate.

Christopher Amatt and Archibald Clifton-Brown both deny hunting and assault offences in Great Thurlow on Boxing Day 2017.

Their trial opened on Monday at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court – sitting before district judge Nick Watson at Ipswich Crown Court.

Amatt, 58, of Attleton Green, Wickhambrook, and Clifton-Brown, 19, of Little Bradley, Haverhill, are charged with alleged offences arising from an incident involving the Thurlow Hunt and a group of saboteurs.

Richard Kelly, prosecuting, alleged that Amatt and Clifton-Brown were both engaged in hunting a wild mammal with dogs, and that the hunting was not of a class exempt by schedule one of the Hunting Act 2004.

Amatt is also charged with common assault on Steven Milton, while Clifton-Brown faces a charge of assault by beating on the same alleged victim.

Mr Milton was among the group of Beds and Bucks Hunt Sabs to attend the event, along with members of the North Cambs Hunt Sabs, at about 1.15pm on Boxing Day.

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At about 2pm, he and fellow saboteur, Paula Lamont, led the group down a track into Trundley Wood after hearing hounds ‘in cry’ – or making noises indicative of finding a scent.

Mr Kelly argued that the prosecution’s case was demonstrated in a video recording by saboteurs, shown to the court, depicting a fox crossing the group’s path, followed by dogs, with “no intervention” on the part of the Thurlow Hunt, despite repeated pleas for the huntsman, Amatt, to call them off.

Clifton-Brown is alleged to have grabbed and wrestled Mr Milton when he recovered the dead fox as evidence, while Amatt allegedly attempted to strike him with a whip.

Mr Kelly’s called Amatt’s assertion that the fox was turned back into the hounds by the presence of saboteurs “ridiculous”.

Amatt told police the hounds had been legally ‘flushing out’ the fox, but that its path had been blocked by a horseshoe-shaped group of 21 saboteurs.

Clifton-Brown claimed it was he who was assaulted after trying to prevent Mr Milton from taking property from private land on which he was trespassing.

The trial continues.

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