Kimblewick Hunt: Men sentenced for releasing fox 'into hunt path'

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Media captionA video shows a man pulling a fox out of an underground tunnel

Two men convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a fox after releasing it "into the path of a hunt" have been given suspended sentences.

Ian Parkinson, 65, and Mark Vincent, 53, were sentenced to 12 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months at Oxford Magistrates' Court.

Covert footage showed one man using drainage rods to move the animal, and the other pulled it out by its tail.

A pack of hounds involved in the hunt arrived in the woodland moments later.

District Judge Kamlesh Rana said the men, who were employed in the Kimblewick Hunt on New Year's Day, had "put this fox at substantial risk of further suffering".

She ordered the pair to conduct 120 hours of unpaid work and each pay £960 in costs.

During their trial, prosecutor Peter Rymon said the men had "clearly placed" the fox "in the path of a hunt at the time the hunt was arriving" in the woodland in Moreton near Thame.

"The rodding caused it unnecessary suffering and pulling it out by the tail enhanced that," he added.

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Image caption The court heard the fox was biting on a bag on the end of the rod before it was pulled from the tunnel

Mr Rymon said animals rendered "under the control of man" had "enhanced rights and those rights are the person in control of it should not cause unnecessary suffering".

Martin Sims, director of investigations at the League Against Cruel Sports and former head of the police's National Wildlife Crime Unit, said the case "provided clear evidence that the Kimblewick Hunt is flouting the hunting ban".

District Judge Rana previously said the defendants' actions were "deliberate and pre-mediated" but said during their sentencing that they "weren't the brains of the operation".

Parkinson, of Lower Road, Haddenham, and Vincent, of Kimblewick, Aylesbury, were found guilty of one count of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

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