I’ve been asked about the search at the kennels following the arrest of Rose and its validity! As previously stated I suspected there was a good chance that further fox cubs could have been taken to the kennels and would end up suffering a cruel and terrifying death in the same way that first four had. (And no doubt many more before them).
The RSPCA Inspector agreed with me.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 Section 18 states ‘If an Inspector or a constable reasonably believes that a protected animal is suffering, he may take, or arrange for the taking of, such steps as appear to him to break immediately necessary to alleviate the animal’s suffering’.
Section 19 states, ‘Power of entry for section 18 purposes’ ‘ An inspector or a constable may enter premises for the purpose of searching for a protected animal and of exercising any power under section 18 in relation to it if he reasonably believes- (a) that there is a protected animal on the premises, and (b) that the animal is suffering or, if the circumstances of the animal do not change, it is likely to suffer’.
Getting a warrant to execute the search on a Saturday night would have delayed the search further and so the common sense approach was taken to act immediately.
I hope that makes sense.
Back to the investigation. I received the preliminary reports from the post mortem carried out on both recovered fox cubs. Although no doubt painful and distressing fo them, the HIT team showed great fortitude in recovering the bodies, as the evidence of the post mortems would prove crucial to the investigation.
The preliminary reports concluded 1. Both foxes were alive when they were attacked by a dog or dogs and sustained severe thoracic injury. 2. Fox 1 was killed as a consequence of the severe thoracic injury. There is no evidence at all for fox 1 being hit over the head to kill it. 3. Fox 2 had a very severe injury to the head which would have been instantly fatal in my view but also had a very severe injury to the chest which occurred in life therefore both of the foxes must have been alive when they were attacked by the dogs. 4. Fox 1 would have been conscious when the attack occurred and at this stage my belief is that fox 2 would have been as well. 5. The account that you suggested to me that the foxes had been both hit over their head and killed before being placed in a carcase bin and that the fox carcases were removed after death and thrown to the hounds by the investigating officers can be completely discredited on the basis of the preliminary post mortem. (It had been suggested that the HIT team had put the dead fox cubs in with the hounds to ‘fit up’ the hunt)!!
So, there we have it. The account that Oliver and Rose had given to the other Masters was clearly a lie.
I went to the two shooting estates where we knew the first two fox cubs had come from and took statements from the Game Keepers. The first Keeper said that they had problems with foxes killing the birds and so had to control them. He said he phoned Parry, a Terrier man who he had met at a hunt meeting earlier in the year. He had never used him previously and would normally shoot foxes himself but the earth being used was on the boundary and so he wasn’t happy to shoot there. He said that his expectation was that Parry would dig out the foxes and kill them immediately at the site. He said he would never have agreed to Parry taking any live foxes away from the premises. He said that Parry would never be allowed back to the estate again. The Keeper said that when Parry attended to dig out the foxes he was in company with his partner and another male person.
The second Keeper said that he met Julie Elmore as she went beating on shoot days at the estate. She introduced him to her partner Parry, who said that he was a Terrier man for the South Hereford Hunt. Julie said that if they needed to get rid of any foxes to give him a ring. He said that in February or March 2016 the South Hereford Hunt attended the estate for a hunt. He said that Nathan and Julie attended with another male, not known to him. They had a quad bike and terriers with them and went out with the hunt. He said that in May 2016 they were having problems with fox cubs on the estate. He said he contacted Julie and asked if they wanted to go and sort them out. He said, ‘By this I meant that I wanted them caught and killed to prevent any further problems’. On 14th May 2016 Parry, Elmore and the same male who had been with them during the hunt, attended the estate. The Keeper left them to dig out the fox earth. When he spoke to Julie by text later she told him they had got two. The keeper saw one dead fox cub in a wheelbarrow in the yard after this. He said it would have been about a month old. He assumed that the other dead cub had been left in the earth. He said that he would never have given them permission to take live foxes away from the estate.
I got evidence statements from the RSPCA Inspector and from an Animal Health Officer from the Animal and Plant Health Agency. She had carried out an inspection of the hunt kennels site on 27th May 2016 which was caught on HITs secret filming. She confirmed that the people on film with her were Paul Oliver and Hannah Rose.
I also took statements from HIT members which were very lengthy and complicated due to documenting the hours of video footage and exhibiting the SD cards containing the evidence. Although this was somewhat complicated, I thought the evidence was clear and simple.
My sergeant and Inspector were impressed and pleased with the work I had done in securing the evidence and everyone was happy for me to continue alone with the investigation.
I seemed to have the support of both the HIT and the remaining Masters of the SHH. Everything seemed to be good!! But all that was about to change…………..