A hunt supporter has been cleared of damaging a badger sett after a judge ruled he may have been the victim of mistaken identity.
Andrew Bellamy, 41, had always denied that he was a man caught on film by anti hunt monitors sending a terrier underground and then digging out and killing a fox which it located.
He was found not guilty on appeal at Exeter Crown Court after Recorder Mr Malcolm Gibney said it was impossible to be sure he was the man on the film.
The Recorder also ruled that there was no evidence that the badger sett had been active at the time of the digging two years ago.
After the case terrierman Mr Bellamy said: “I am very glad that justice has been done. This has taken two years of my life and has had a detrimental effect on me and my family. I am just glad it is all over.”
Mr Bellamy is the huntsman with the Spooners and West Dartmoor Hunt where his wife Clare is the hunt master.
He was also the terrierman with the neighbouring South Devon Hunt, which has its kennels at Denbury, near Newton Abbot.
Mr Bellamy, of The Kennels, Sampford Spiney, near Yelverton, appealed to Exeter Crown Court against his conviction by South Devon Magistrates last year for two offences of interfering with a badger sett.
He was cleared by Recorder Gibney who ruled in his favour on both the main issues in the case, whether he was the man on the video and whether it was an active sett.
During the four-day hearing the prosecution alleged Mr Bellamy was a bald headed man caught on a 31-minute video clip video by hunt monitor Edmund Shephard.
The footage showed the man digging into an apparent badger sett during a meet of the South Devon Hunt at Beacon Farm, Bridford, near Newton Abbot.
The Recorder awarded Mr Bellamy costs to cover his expenses in travelling to and from the appeal.