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Lee Moon, press officer of the Hunt Saboteurs Association, commented: "It is common for the Police to take the side of hunters, but to blatantly disregard the reporting of two crimes, and then threaten arrest takes their bias to a new level. The public in Kent should be asking why their police force is supporting hunting criminals."
Hunt Saboteurs Association News Release 25th August 2017
Guildford Hunt Sab found NOT GUILTY - charges dropped half way through court case due to no evidence.
On the 25th of February hunt saboteurs from the Guildford, West Sussex, South Coast, Croydon and Brighton groups were keeping a watchful eye on the Crawley and Horsham hunt (whom have been convicted of illegal hunting and acts of violence towards hunt saboteurs). As hounds went into cry after a fox, two Guildford sabs followed the hounds. Joint master Neil Millard rode his horse directly into one of the sabs using his horse as a weapon. Millard was convicted of illegal hunting in 2012 alongside two other members of this same hunt.
Arriving on the scene Sussex cops assumed the sab was in the wrong and detained him - despite the sab making the allegation of assault first (which was completely ignored). Neil Millard then claimed the sab had stabbed him in the leg although no injury was evidenced. The sab was searched and, despite no weapons being found, was charged with common assault.
The sab had filmed the entire incident on a GoPro and the footage shows Neil Millard recklessly riding his horse with no retaliation. This charge was dropped but the sab was arrested under caution for aggravated trespass.
During the subsequent court case:
Neil Millard was called and his claim of being stabbed with a needle was brought into question because there was no injury and he didn't visit the hospital. He even continued hunting for the rest of the day. He did provide a video of the incident which shows him turn his horse and aggressively ride into the sab. The audio also has someone say "touch those hounds and I'll f**king kill you.”
The police maintain that the sab was shouting at the hounds to disrupt them however none of the video evidence of the entire incident shows this. All that the videos show is the sab being assaulted and threats from hunters. There is absolutely no evidence of the sab 'disrupting a legal activity' so why was this even brought to court?
The police stated they originally detained the two sabs because they believed an offence of aggravated trespass was being committed - however the sab wasn't arrested for this until 9 hours later. It's clear that the police had hoped to get the sab for common assault but upon realising the sab had filmed it all they had no prospect of a conviction so re-arrested him for the trespass. The sabs were not given any indication that it was private land and were not asked to leave the land and was only informed it was private by the police after being detained.
Police dismissed the sabs first allegation of assault WITH video evidence and decided to favour convicted criminal hunter Neil Millards account and phoned him to ask if he wanted to make an allegation of assault AFTER the sab made the initial complaint of assault.
The police were questioned due to the inconsistencies in the statements as they stated that the sabs 'interfering with the hounds' had been masked which the video clearly shows was untrue although irrelevant as wearing a mask is not a crime.
After hearing all the (lack of) evidence the magistrates decided to dismiss the case and the sab was found NOT GUILTY.
The police on the day seized the sabs wallet and hat and presented it as evidence as it had a HSA logo on.
Lee Moon, Press office of the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated:
“This hunt has more convictions for hunting than any other in the country, so the default stance of the police that their activities are legal belies the facts. This arrest and court case is a clear attempt by Sussex cops to deter the monitoring and where required, legal disruption of an illegal activity.
Representatives of the HSA have a meeting scheduled with Sussex police. We will be asking them about this case and why membership of our organisation is provided as evidence of wrongdoing in court.”
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