Hunt master guilty of assaults
A HUNT master from Essex who assaulted a policeman and two anti-hunt activists is facing a possible jail term, a judge has warned.Farmer Douglas Hill, of West Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, was also convicted of damaging property and harassment after trouble flared at a hunt meeting near Danbury in March 2005.
A HUNT master from Essex who assaulted a policeman and two anti-hunt activists is facing a possible jail term, a judge has warned.
Farmer Douglas Hill, of West Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, was also convicted of damaging property and harassment after trouble flared at a hunt meeting near Danbury in March 2005.
Hill, joint master of the Essex Farmers' and Union Hunt, was released on bail yesterday pending reports but told that he could go to prison.
District Judge Margaret Dodd found Hill, 63, guilty of five offences following a trial at a magistrates' court in Witham.
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Hill had denied the offences and the case was adjourned until May 15 for sentencing.
During the proceedings, hunt protestors' video footage of an altercation at the hunt involving Hill were played to the court.
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Still photographs also taken at the scene were later handed to the EADT.
Hill was accused of spitting blood in the face of the policeman after the trouble started.
The judge was told that Hill had struck protesters Geoffrey Bradford, 20, and Sally Mitchell, 26, with his whip.
He had also wiped his bloody hand on Pc Craig Bolton's police jacket and threatened protesters.
The judge said she accepted the prosecution evidence and did not think that Hill was acting in self-defence or could justify his actions. “These are serious assaults,” she said. “I am going to ask probation to investigate all options - including custody.”
The offences happened a month after the new laws banning hunting foxes with hounds came into force.
Pc Bolton told the court that he had seen Hill assault two hunt saboteurs and was going to arrest him when the huntsman spat at him.
He said he had seen Hill grab a man by the hair and strike another protester using the top of his whip.
Pc Bolton said Hill turned to him and said: “Did you see that, they assaulted me. What are you going to do about that?”
He said that he asked Hill to get down from his horse and told the court he had intended to arrest him.
“He didn't get off the horse,” said Pc Bolton. “Before I had the chance to question Mr Hill further he leant towards me and spat directly on to my face from a distance of about 2ft away. I felt blood go into my mouth and my eye.”
He added: “While Mr Hill was still leaning towards me he wiped his hand across his mouth and nose and then wiped his hand across my jacket.”
Pc Bolton said: “I was shocked, completely shocked about what had happened. I wasn't expecting such a thing. I believe I just stood still in amazement.”
Hill told the court he had been hunting since he was a teenager and had been a hunt master since 1982.
He said on the day he was arrested he had been riding when he was “surrounded” by a group of protesters.
“All of a sudden somebody has grabbed the reins of my horse. At the same time somebody has hit me in the face,” he said.
He added: “They were really trying to get me off my horse ... They are vicious people.”
Hill claimed he was merely doing what he could to get away and did not hit anyone intentionally.
He also said he had not wiped his bloody hand on Pc Bolton's fluorescent jacket and denied hitting two protesters with his whip.
The prosecution said that shortly after the incident with Pc Bolton, Hill was seen on video threatening protesters that “someone was going to cop it” and Ms Mitchell, 20, with his whip.
On the video, shown in court, Ms Mitchell is heard to scream: “Why do you hit women?” Hill is heard to reply: “You have got equality, lady ... just f*** off.”