July 22, 2015
An angry landowner ran over some harrier hounds in a lane and reversed at speed at some of the hunt’s horse riders, a court has been told.
Jonathon Wright-Watson also attacked a foot follower grabbing him by his neck and pulling him down an embankment, a jury was told.
But he claimed the hounds had run amok and trespassed on his land and that the riders were in a frenzy and attacking his vehicle with their riding crops.
Mr Edward Bailey, prosecuting, said the Dart Vale and South Pool harriers were on a Saturday morning hunt at Rolster Bridge near Harberton. Totnes two weeks before last Christmas.
He said 35 hounds, 20 horse riders and some 40 foot followers were involved in the hunt following a pre laid scented trail around surrounding countryside near Harberton in Devon.
Mr Bailey told Plymouth Crown Court: “Mr Wright-Watson exercised his right, which he is perfectly entitled to do so, to say that this local hunt would not have any permission to hunt over his land.”
The defendant said that any hounds or riders would be trespassing if they went on his land or property.
But, said the prosecutor: “This is exactly what appears to have happened during the course of that morning.”
Wright-Watson told police in interviews that he was at home with a female friend, some children and pets when he saw hounds on his land and ‘running amok’.
Mr Bailey said the defendant told police: “He was cross about this to say the least.”
One hound did not leave his property and he grabbed it and put it into the back of his Mitsubishi pick up vehicle and he drove off to find its owner.
Mr Bailey said: “He set off in a bad mood. He had been angered by this trespass. He was driving at speed.”
The jury heard one foot follower was Stanley Wreyford who was watching the hunt in the valley below when he heard a vehicle driving at speed towards him.
The jury heard he quickly clambered up a hedge as the vehicle came to an abrupt halt and Wright-Watson ‘grabbed him by the scruff of the neck around his shirt and jumper’.
Wright-Watson, 55, of Old Mill Leat, Harberton, Devon, then drove off .
Three hounds were in the middle of the lane – and the jury heard the defendant made no attempt to stop ‘and hit them and ran over one of the hounds’.
Bounty, a bitch, suffered a broken pelvis and hock ankle wound .
Shortly afterwards Wright-Watson got out of the pick up and grabbed the hound still in his boot. Mr Bailey said he held it by the ‘scruff of its neck, shook it and threw it to the ground’.
He then reversed at a group of riders in the lane – a scene caught on a follower’s mobile phone.
In police interview Wright-Watson said he was annoyed that the hounds had trespassed on his land.
But he said he drove down the lanes in first gear at 15mph and that Mr Wreyford slipped down the bank and he had put his arm out to prevent him falling over.
Mr Bailey said he ‘emphatically denied that he had run over the hounds or hit any of the hounds at all’.
He claimed that the riders were ‘in a frenzy and were hitting his vehicle with their riding crops’ and opening his boot to look inside.
He denies dangerous driving and assaulting Mr Wreyford by beating.
The trial continues.
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