Four members of the Crawley and Horsham hunt in West Sussex are appearing in court this week, accused of Hunting Act offences.

The trial opened yesterday (Monday 23 April) at Horsham Magistrates Court.

Masters Neill Millard of Dragons Lane, Shipley, and Jamie Hawksfield, of Bines Road, Partridge Green; secretary Rachael Holdsworth, of Rock Road, Washington and ex-huntsman – now Master and huntsman of the Dart Vale Harriers – Andrew Phillis, of Halwell, Totnes, are variously charged in relation to five separate alleged offences under the Hunting Act on three days in January and February 2011.

All charges relate to section one of the Hunting Act – hunting a wild mammal with dogs.

All four pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.

The evidence on which the prosecution is based comes from members of a West Sussex animal rights group.

On the opening morning of the trial the court heard from the prosecutor Walton Hornsby and saw video evidence filmed by members of the animal rights group – including Simon and Jane Wild and Carole Tibbetts – from 18 January 2011, 25 January 2011 and 15 February 2011.

In the afternoon a site visit to Southwater, Shermanbury and Twineham was arranged, where it is alleged unlawful hunting took place.

The case continues and the court will hear from the defendants later this week.