Trial date set for five facing allegations brought to court by RSPCA
Five members of the Avon Vale Hunt, including a Wiltshire councillor, have appeared in court charged with breaching the Hunting Act 2004.
Joshua Charlesworth, 18, from East Tytherton; Benjamin Pethers, 28, of Hoopers Pool, Southwick; Stuart Radbourne, 28, of The Common, Bromham; Paul Tylee-Hinder, 58, of Quemerford, Calne; and Jonathon Seed, 54, of Chittoe Heath, Bromham, all denied the breach when they appeared before magistrates in Chippenham on Tuesday.
Four of them denied an additional charge of interfering with a badger sett, though Mr Radbourne, one of the joint hunt masters, indicated a guilty plea to that charge.
The case has been brought by the RSPCA and refers to incidents alleged to have taken place on March 6 this year at Stockley Hollow, near Calne.
The bench heard the case could not proceed and would be adjourned to November 9 when a date for the trial will be set.
The five all appeared on summons so the question of bail did not arise.
Mr Seed, Wiltshire councillor for Summerham and Seend and a former hunt master, said he intended to fight the allegation against him.
In a statement released to the Gazette, he said: “This is a private prosecution by the RSPCA and I believe it has been commenced for political reasons as their stance against hunting is well known and it is of great significance that Wiltshire Police, after advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, declined to take this case forward.
“In my opinion, these proceedings are an abuse of the private prosecution system which needs to be addressed in due course. I totally deny the allegations of any offence against the Hunting Act and there is simply no evidence of either myself or any of the other defendants or anyone else being involved in any illegal hunting on the day in question.”