Devon

Devon huntmaster 'struck saboteur with riding crop'

Jason Marles Image copyright Irving of Exeter
Image caption Marles was found guilty of using threatening and abusive behaviour to cause harassment, alarm and distress

A Devon huntmaster "saw red" and struck a hunt saboteur with his riding crop after galloping at her on his horse, a court has heard.

Jason Marles, 37, had denied using threatening and abusive behaviour to cause harassment, alarm and distress to Jessica Groling in December.

He was found guilty by Exeter magistrates during a trial on Friday.

Ms Groling suffered a bruised liver and was airlifted to hospital after the clash near North Tawton, Devon.

Exeter Magistrates' Court saw footage of the incident recorded on Ms Groling's chest camera.

Image copyright Irving of Exeter
Image caption Marles had denied the charges

Ms Groling said: "Marles was galloping straight at us at high speed. I thought he is going to trample us.

"He was heading straight for us and I felt terrified... He then stopped a few metres away and leapt off his horse and came straight for me with a riding crop in his left hand."

'Stabbed my abdomen'

The court heard Ms Groling had been using an antique hunting horn to distract the hunt's pack of hounds.

She said Marles tried to grab the horn from her and "stabbed my abdomen with his riding crop", causing the liver injury.

The court heard there was no claim that illegal hunting was being carried out.

Marles, who is the huntmaster of the Eggesford Hunt based at Wembworthy, Devon, said he had been subjected to 18 months harassment by hunt saboteurs, whom he said wore masks to be more intimidating.

Magistrates told Marles: "You saw red and lost control, that was patently clear."

They said his use of the riding crop was "reckless rather than deliberate".

Marles, who has no previous convictions, will be sentenced later this month.

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