A Hunt Master was fined £2,500 after threatening to ram his bugle down the throat of a saboteur he thought had kidnapped one of his hounds.
Crawley and Horsham Hunt Master Kim Richardson, 59, confronted committed hunt saboteur Raoul D’Monte in February this year, Horsham magistrates’ court was told.
The hunter, dressed in traditional red coat, shouted in Mr D’Monte’s face as he brandished the hunting horn.
Horsham magistrates heard on October 10 that the Hunt Master was aggressive and threatening when he demanded the return of his dog.
He told Mr D’Monte: “Have you got my missing hound, you lot?”
He then made the threat to put the bugle ‘straight down your throat’.
Mr D’Monte, 53, who described himself as a hunt sab with 35 years’ experience, said he feared for his life during the confrontation.
He described the Crawley and Horsham Hunt as the most prosecuted in the country.
“He approached me and became very very aggressive and said you’re a hunt sab, you’ve stolen my hound.
“I was trying to say excuse me we’re trying to return your hound to you.
“He approached with his left arm raised, holding a hunting horn.
“He was jabbing the hunting horn towards my face, it was millimetres from my face.
“He had not mentioned the missing hound before.
“It was a terrifying moment and it has left quite an impact.
“He was very, very aggressive.
“As he was jabbing the horn at my face, he was saying he was going to ram it down my throat.
“I think he had his riding crop in his other hand,” Mr D’Monte said.
“It was really scary because we were actually trying to help him.
“We were trying to return his hound to him.
“It seemed so irrational, I was really in fear.
“It was terrifying.
“I was really, really scared for the welfare of the people with me.
“We really thought we were going to get attacked in the woods.”
Following the confrontation, Mr D’Monte said he and two other hunt sabs fled.
“We ran for our lives.
“I was in fear of my life.
“These hunters are violent.”
Mr D’Monte, who acts as the Hunt Saboteurs Association press officer, said: “I thought we were going to die if we stayed there.”
Richardson had been on a legal drag hunt in countryside around Ashington, West Sussex, with 40 dogs and 30 riders being followed by around 50 saboteurs, the court was told.
The drag hunt has replaced the traditional fox hunt since hunting with dogs was banned in 2004.
The court heard one of the pack of hounds had gone missing during the hunt on Saturday, February 25 this year.
Richardson told the court Chapter the dog had been raised by his wife and he would be in trouble if he went home without her.
The master of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt, who started fox hunting aged 18, described his dogs as part of his family and said he has never lost one.
Richardson said he saw hunt sabs every time he went out in the season.
It is strict hunt policy not to fight with the hunt sabs, he told the court.
“We move away when they get to us.”
When he realised one of his dogs was missing, Richardson said he sent assistants to find her.
“My wife had brought her up from a very young age.
“They can hear the horn from miles away and always come back to it.
“After an hour, she hadn’t returned.
“There were two or three of them standing watching and they were trying to stroke the hounds, which I’ll be honest I don’t like.
“One of my people said he’d just overheard on the sabs radio they had got a hound and were talking about whether or not they should they return it.
“I slightly lost my temper and, probably a little bit over enthusiastically, asked if he wouldn’t mind giving my hound back.
“I went back and sat down.
“About 45 minutes later, it was returned to us.”
Asked if it was true he did not like hunt sabs, Richardson said: “Of course not.
“I dislike them.
“Of course I don’t like what they do.
“I accept it, I see them 41 times a year.
“My dogs are very precious to me.
“They’d stolen my hound.
“I was making sure my hound came back.
“I was asking him to give my hound back in perhaps an over enthusiastic manner.”
The saboteurs were accompanied by a crew from the Huffington Post who filmed them following the the hunt.
District Judge Christopher James told Richardson he had let himself down.
“It is clear he wanted to cause alarm,” the judge said.
“I’m satisfied he intended to cause alarm so that I am sure.”
He said he was satisfied that the witness in the case and and another man with him were alarmed by what they heard given the circumstances.
“It is clear the words and manner were intended to be alarming and it was so.”
The judge said Richardson’s behaviour became increasingly threatening.
“This was not reasonable conduct, the action was aggressive and needn’t have been.”
The judge told him: “I find each aspect of the case proved and the defendant guilty.
“There is an element of provocation, but nonetheless your reaction was unreasonable and unbecoming of the position that you held and of your character.
“A professional gentleman, who is a hard working man, you acted in a way that has let yourself down significantly.”
Richardson was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £635 and a victim surcharge of £130.
DJ James said: “Given your circumstances, I will make a collection order giving you 14 days to pay the total £3,255.”