Huntsman Convicted Of Animal Cruelty After Being Filmed Feeding Foxes To Hounds

Oliver had claimed he relocated the two fox cubs to the wild.
PA

A senior huntsman convicted of allowing his hounds to kill four fox cubs has been handed a 16-week suspended jail sentence for causing their “painful, terrifying” deaths.

Paul Oliver, who was master of hounds with the now disbanded South Herefordshire Hunt, was not banned from keeping animals because he would lose his job at a stud yard.

Passing sentence at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Joanna Dickens also imposed a 12-week suspended sentence on Oliver’s partner, Hannah Rose, the hunt’s kennel maid.

Oliver and Rose, both of Sutton Crosses, near Spalding, Lincolnshire, were also ordered to pay ÂŁ300 in costs and a ÂŁ115 victim surcharge after being convicted of causing unnecessary suffering.

A seven-day trial at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard Oliver was caught by a hidden camera as he prepared to feed live fox cubs to his dogs in May 2016.

Giving verdicts in the case, the judge cleared terrierman Nathan Parry, who did not work for the hunt, of causing suffering to four foxes.

Parry, aged 40, of Brynarw estate near Abergavenny, took the foxes to the kennels but was found not guilty after the judge accepted that he believed they would be relocated in the wild.

Julie Elmore, aged 55, also of Brynarw estate near Abergavenny, and Paul Reece, 48, from Itton, near Chepstow in south Wales, admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering before the trial.

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Opening the case at the start of the trial, prosecutor Simon Davis said: “The unnecessary suffering involved the killing of fox cubs, effectively feeding the animals… throwing the fox cubs into the kennels of the fox hounds, thereby killing them.

“Oliver and Rose were employed by the South Herefordshire Hunt, based at Wormelow, as master of hounds, and a kennel maid or groom.”

The court was told hidden motion-sensitive cameras were placed at the kennels by the Hunt Investigation Team (HIT) after they received information that animal welfare legislation had been breached.

As part of the HIT inquiry, two sites were identified where foxes were thought to have been “dug out” and police inquiries established gamekeepers had given permission for the animals to be destroyed on the land.

The court was told that a camera recorded Oliver handling foxes at the kennels and dumping the bodies of two cubs in a wheelie bin.

The footage also showed a stick with a noose attached, known as a grasper, being used by Oliver, who had previously been a senior member of Cornwall’s Western Hunt.

Oliver, 40, and Rose, 30, both of Sutton Crosses, near Spalding, Lincolnshire, had denied four counts of animal cruelty.

Sentencing in the case is expected to take place on Monday afternoon.

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