Officer relives alleged hunt assault

A POLICE officer has described how a huntmaster allegedly spat blood in his face after trouble flared at a hunt meeting.Pc Craig Bolton said he was “completely shocked” after farmer Douglas Hill spat at him during a confrontation at a meeting in Maldon in March last year.

A POLICE officer has described how a huntmaster allegedly spat blood in his face after trouble flared at a hunt meeting.

Pc Craig Bolton said he was “completely shocked” after farmer Douglas Hill spat at him during a confrontation at a meeting in Maldon in March last year.

Pc Bolton told magistrates in Witham he had seen Hill assault two hunt saboteurs and was going to arrest him when the huntsman spat at him.

He told the court he had seen the 63-year-old of West Hanningfield, grab a male protester by the hair and strike another protester using the top of his whip.

Hill, who was a joint master of the Essex and Farmers and Union Hunt at the time of the incident, denies assault, causing criminal damage and harassment.

Pc Bolton said that after he witnessed what had happened, Hill turned to him and said: “Did you see that, they assaulted me. What are you going to do about that?”

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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. “He turned his horse and 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.

“As soon as I felt the blood hit my face Mr Hill again shouted: “What are you going to do about it? “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.

“I was shocked, completely shocked about what had happened. I wasn't expecting such a thing. I believe I just stood still in amazement. I felt blood go into my mouth and my eye.”

Pc Bolton said Hill was later arrested and taken to Chelmsford police station.

He told the court that while at the police station Hill apologised for what he had done.

Pc Bolton said when he explained that Hill had spat in his face, the huntsman had replied: “I'm sorry that's not my scene ... Whatever you have to do officially, but unofficially I apologise.”

Prosecutor Tim Thomas has told the court Hill struck out after members of the hunt were met by protesters and saboteurs.

He said Hill suffered a bloody nose during a clash with a protester and was then approached by Pc Bolton.

Mr Thomas said after allegedly attacking Pc Bolton, Hill struck protesters Sally Mitchell and Geoffrey Bradford with the riding crop he was carrying.

Earlier Ms Mitchell told the court she “thought she was going to die” when allegedly attacked with the crop.

“I just felt dizzy and at this point I really thought I was going to die,” she told the court.

She was later taken to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford suffering from bruising but was released that day.

Footage of the event has been screened in court. A red-coated huntsman was seen to look down from his horse and say to Ms Mitchell, “You have got equality lady ... Just **** off.”

The hunt was taking place a month after a ban on hunting came into force. Hunts continued to gather legally by drag-hunting.

The court has heard that a hunt protest group from north London was in Maldon to monitor the meeting on March 12.

A protester was arrested on suspicion of assaulting Hill during the meeting, the court has heard.

The hearing continues and is due to end next week.

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