The Daily Telegraph

Five hunt protesters spared prison after attack on girl, 15

- By Hayley Dixon

A TEENAGE girl was left “fearing for her life” after being pushed by a gang of balaclava-clad trail hunt saboteurs, a court has heard.

The girl, aged 15, and two men, aged 61 and 52, were watching a hunt in Oakham, Leicesters­hire, when they were set upon by an “intimidati­ng” group of five men dressed all in black.

The older male victim was punched in the face and “smacked to the floor”, causing him to suffer a crack to his front tooth. The other man and the girl were pushed, intimidate­d and “forced into the direction of the road” during the attack in January, magistrate­s were told.

One of those involved in the attack, Paul Allman, 47, has previously been convicted of an assault on a former Master of the Cheshire Hunt and has links to the Stockport Monitors, who target hunt meets.

He had travelled more than 100 miles from his home in Stockport, Greater Manchester, along with Matthew Slater, 39, Charley Waring, 25, Cameron Allman, 21, Reuben Waterhouse, 21, before the attack.

Prosecutor Sajeela Hussain told a sentencing hearing at Leicester magistrate­s’ court, that: “Multiple witnesses said the men were acting in an aggressive manner.” She added that the teenage girl “felt shaken up and scared and didn’t want to return to a hunt and felt her life was put in danger”.

All five men had denied “using threatenin­g, abusive, insulting words, behaviour to cause harassment, alarm, distress” but were convicted after a trial at Loughborou­gh magistrate­s’ court in July.

They were all spared jail on Monday after being handed suspended sentences by the magistrate­s’ court in Leicester along with requiremen­ts for unpaid work and compensati­on payments to the victims.

Passing the sentences, chairman of the bench, Ljubica Kendall, said there is a prospect of rehabilita­tion for all five men but “they must keep out of trouble for the next 12 months to avoid serving time in prison”.

During a number of recent court cases those involved in trail hunting have said that they have felt intimidate­d by saboteurs wearing balaclavas.

The protesters follow the riders in trail hunts to try to catch them breaking strict laws on hunting with dogs.

Polly Portwin, director of the campaign for hunting at the Countrysid­e Alliance, said: “The act of protest is a fundamenta­l right, however, hunt saboteur activity routinely crosses the line between what is acceptable.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom