Three hunt members have had their fines quashed after they were cleared of blame over the death of a fox.
The trio won their appeal having previously been found guilty at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court – they denied a breach of the Hunting Act on January 30, 2016.
Halfway through their appeal at Nottingham Crown Court, the prosecution decided not to pursue the case and the appeal was granted by Mr Recorder Roger Evans, sitting with a magistrate.
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Adrian Simpson, for the Countryside Alliance, said the case was flawed from the start.
He said: “The essence is that for the last 12 or 18 months, three people have been living as convicted criminals when they were innocent people.
“They are elated, relieved and feel that justice has finally been done.
“There was patently no evidence of intentional hunting.
“It became patently clear in the course of the appeal that a fox jumped out in front of the hounds, which pursued it for a short distance and killed it.
“Trail hunting is a legal activity and that is what was happening here. Hounds follow a trail of fox’s urine.”
The fox’s death was caught on camera by birdwatcher Phillip Palmer. He told the court that he saw a man in green pointing the direction it had run at Laneham, near Retford.
Three Grove and Rufford Hunt members were prosecuted and found guilty after a trial at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.
A £800 fine had been imposed on huntsman Paul Larby, aged 57, of The Kennels, Kennel Drive, Barnby Moor, was fined £800, while trail-layer Peter White, also 57, of Leyfields Farm, Redhill Lane, Kneesall, was fined £550.
Jane Wright, 63, the hunt’s whipper-on, of Town Street, Lound, was fined £180.
These have all now been quashed.
They had each also been ordered to pay £248 prosecution costs and a £80 government surcharge at the original three-day hearing.
There will be a sitting on April 27 to deal with an application for defence costs to be paid.