TWO men who were convicted of animal cruelty after dragging a trapped fox from a tunnel during a hunt in Oxfordshire have been spared jail.
Ian James Kirby Parkinson, 65, of Lower Road, Haddenham, and Mark Anthony Vincent, 53, of Kimblewick, Aylesbury – the President of the Kimblewick Hunt group – were both found guilty last month at Oxford Magistrates’ Court.
Both were charged with one count each of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, on New Year’s Day of this year, which they denied.
The charges were linked to illegal fox hunting near Moreton Field Farm in Moreton, near Thame, during the Kimblewick Hunt.
Vincent and Parkinson were caught on CCTV removing the slabs at the end of a hunting set, which had been used to trap a fox.
Parkinson tried to force the scared fox out of the pipe towards Vincent, who grabbed the animal by its tail and dropped it on the ground as the hunt approached.
Dogs and horses were then captured on the footage, being given commands by the hunt group to pursue the fox.
Parkinson and Vincent tried to deny that the fox was caused unnecessary suffering, but the prosecution secured three expert reports which proved that their actions undoubtedly caused the animal to suffer.
Despite being captured on CCTV, both Vincent and Parkinson tried to claim they were not responsible.
However, the prosecution was able to use witness testimony to verify that they were the offenders.
This combination of witness identification, CCTV footage and the expert findings were all essential in securing the second successful prosecution for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Sentencing this afternoon (November 26) District Judge Kamlesh Rana said the offence was so serious a prison sentence was merited, albeit one she could suspend.
Each was handed a 12-week jail term, suspended for 12 months.
They must also complete 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days and carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.
Court costs of £960 was also ordered, as was a victim surcharge of £115.
Charlotte Webster, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Despite being captured on CCTV dragging the fox violently out of the trap as dogs approached to chase the frightened animal, the pair continued to deny they had done anything wrong.
“The expert testimony we secured for this case and our commitment to showing that what they had done was against the law, has enabled us to secure a successful prosecution for hunting offences using the charge of causing unnecessary suffering.”