Repeal is more necessary than ever, said a joint-master whose huntsman has been prosecuted for using three hounds to flush an injured stag to guns, instead of the prescribed two.

Quantock Staghounds huntsman Richard Down was convicted of unlawful hunting, for a second time, at Taunton Magistrates Court on 22 November.

Quantock joint-master James Hawthorne told H&H: “We are very disappointed. We believed what we were doing was within the law.

“Now we are taking legal advice and will decide whether to appeal. People ask whether repeal is necessary. Anyone who has been involved in a case like this knows why it is
so important.”

Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance said it was “a very harsh judgement”.

“It is truly ridiculous. Whether or not it was right under the letter of the law, he was prosecuted for killing an injured animal faster than he would have done otherwise.”

He said it was the first prosecution brought under the exemption from the Hunting Act to allow for the rescue of an injured animal.

“If parliament’s purpose was to create an exemption from the Act to put animals out of their misery, they would surely have wanted it to be as quick as possible,” added Mr Bonner.

Richard Down was alerted by a farmer on a September morning last year, who saw a stag with a broken hip, and was filmed pursuing the animal with three hounds by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) as he went to put it down.

He was fined £375, with a £15 victim surcharge and £2,530 costs.

Mr Down and whipper-in Andrew Pillivant appealed, unsuccessfully, against a previous conviction in October 2007, again brought by LACS (news, 25 October 2007).

LACS chief executive Douglas Batchelor said: “This is a real slap in the face for anyone who claims the Hunting Act is not working.”

This article was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound, 2 December 2010