Two followers of the Belvoir hunt, a father and son Thomas and George Grant, have been convicted for the serious assault of two men; the conviction comes 2 years after the incident took place.
The men assaulted were monitoring the hunt on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports; one of the men was Darryl Cunnington, a 59 year old former police officer that was left with a broken neck following the unprovoked assault.
Investigator Pushed of a 14ft Escarpment
The assault took place on March 12th 2016 when two investigators were filming the hunt from a distance of 1km. The two men were approached by 6 men (4 of which remain unidentified) who attacked the men and stole their camera.
During the attack, Darryl Cunnington, an ex-policeman, was pushed off a 14 foot bank falling and breaking his neck. The hunt supporters then left without offering assistance, leaving the two injured men to wait for emergency services to arrive.
Hunt Violence Towards Cameras
Video footage is the most effective weapon against the hunts, so it is no wonder that those filming are often blocked, intimidated, attacked or have their equipment stolen. In this case, the men were also convicted of stealing a video camera and destroying a memory card.
Following the conviction, Darryl Cunnington said:
“Hopefully this will send out a message to all hunts that they cannot carry out assaults on people who wish to monitor their activities.
“If they are operating within the law as they claim, then they have nothing to hide.
“By attacking monitors and stealing camera equipment they have shown they fear their hunting activities being recorded, and the possibility of prosecution.
“l am very lucky that the assault has left me with no long-term serious injuries. After falling 14ft, finding myself unable to move, I feared I was paralysed. “
“The offenders showed no remorse and left us injured. The fact they refused to co-operate with the police shows no remorse or concern.”
The other investigator who suffered less serious injuries added:
“The investigations team have a policy of non-interference and we are there purely to record any hunting or other cruelty offences.”
“We were filming the Belvoir Hunt from a public bridleway from a distance of 1km. This violent response by an employee of the hunt and five others was unprovoked and a complete overreaction.”
“My colleague, Darryl Cunnington, was lucky not to have been killed. This conviction sends a powerful message to hunts up and down the country that you cannot simply attack anyone in the vicinity who happens to have a camera or who may disagree with your activities.”
Both men will be sentenced by a judge on 14th June 2018.
What to do If You Witness Illegal Hunting
Hunt violence towards cameras is to be expected, and most will resort to intimidation when trying to prevent incriminating footage from being captured. If you witness illegal hunting but fear being approached, here’s what you should do:
- Call the police and report that you have witnessed illegal hunting.
- Film covertly from a distance – check out this blog for getting the right footage to make your video evidence count.
- Keep your camera running for as long as possible, if the hunt begin to approach you, send your video evidence to a friend then begin filming again.
- If your filming on your phone and fear it may be stolen, start a live video on Facebook and make your way out of the area; this will capture any audio and video evidence of the theft should it occur.