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Huntsman convicted of hunting fox and assaulting saboteur

A huntsman has been found guilty of illegally hunting a fox and attacking a protester, it emerged today.

Christopher Amatt, 58, became embroiled in a confrontation with a saboteur on a Boxing Day hunt in 2017.

The dispute erupted after hunt saboteurs said a fox was killed by hounds belonging to the Thurlow Hunt.

EAST ANGLIA NEWS SERVICE, tel. 07767 413379 Christopher Amatt, 58, who is appearing before Ipswich magistrates sitting at Ipswich Crown Court in connection with alleged hunting offences

Christopher Amatt, 58, has been convicted of illegally hunting a fox and assaulting a protester (Picture: East Anglia News Service)

Police were called to reports of a fight between Amatt and saboteur Steven Milton in Trundley Wood near Great Thurlow, Suffolk.

During the fight, Archibald Clifton-Brown, 19, who looked after the dogs, wrestled Milton to the ground and assaulted him.

Officers launched an investigation and Amatt and Clifton-Brown were later brought before magistrates in July last year to be charged in connection with the incident.

Amatt, from Wickhambrook, Suffolk, and Clifton-Brown, from Little Bradley, Suffolk, both denied intentional hunting of a mammal with dogs, contrary to the Hunting Act 2004.

Both also pleaded not guilty to the assault charges.

EAST ANGLIA NEWS SERVICE, tel. 07767 413379 Archibald Clfton-Brown, 19, who was today (tied) convicted of assaulting a hunt protestor during a tug of war over a dead fox

Archibald Clfton-Brown, 19, was convicted of assaulting a hunt protester during a tug of war over a dead fox (Picture: East Anglia News Service)

But after a three-day trial, Amatt was yesterday found guilty of both charges, while Clifton-Brown was cleared of the hunting charge and found guilty of assault by beating.

Amatt was fined £150 for the hunting offence, £100 for the assault offence, and ordered to pay £600 costs and a £30 surcharge.

Clifton-Brown was fined £150 for the assault and ordered to pay £450 in costs and a £30 surcharge.

Speaking today, a hunt saboteur calling himself James, said: ‘We were absolutely overjoyed to receive the news and to hear the judge’s verdicts.

‘It’s good to see justice dealt out in a hunting case.’

EAST ANGLIA NEWS SERVICE, tel. 07767 413379 The alleged remains of the fox which was killed by hounds at the Thurlow Hunt meeting on Boxing Day, 2017

The alleged remains of the fox that was killed by hounds (Picture: East Anglia News Service)

The Countryside Alliance confirmed it would appeal the decision.

Chief Executive Tim Bonner said: ‘This is a disappointing judgment. This incident happened on Boxing Day 2017, the most popular day in the trail hunting calendar, when the Thurlow hunt was being followed by hundreds of supporters as well as dozens of masked animal rights activists.

‘The idea that anyone would attempt to deliberately hunt a fox in such circumstances is quite bizarre.’

Sergeant Brian Calver added: ‘The Hunting Act came into force in 2005 and as such, there’s no excuse for those involved in this pastime to carry out such acts.

‘The legislation makes it quite clear what can and cannot be done and those involved have a duty to be conversant with the rules.

‘The fact that Amatt has been found guilty of these crimes today sends out a clear message to those who actively commit offences against wildlife.’

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