Hunter caught terrorising fox by London saboteurs avoids jail

Paul O'Shea was captured torturing a fox by the North London Hunt Saboteurs

Paul O'Shea was captured torturing a fox by the North London Hunt Saboteurs - Credit: North London Hunt Saboteurs

A huntsman has avoided a term jail after being caught stabbing a fox with a pitchfork by north London saboteurs. 

Paul O'Shea, 49, of Mount Bures, appeared before Chelmsford Magistrates' Court for sentencing on Monday (August 1).

The father-of-two had admitted to hunting a wild mammal with dogs and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal at the same court on June 22.

Paul O'Shea received 18 months in jail suspended for a year

Paul O'Shea received 18 months in jail suspended for a year after 'repeatedly stabbing' a fox with a pitchfork - Credit: North London Hunt Saboteurs

The court was shown harrowing footage of the "prolonged attack", given as evidence by the North London Hunt Saboteurs (NLHS) from a camera hidden in the woods.

On December 6, the group recorded covert footage of O’Shea of "torturing" a fox in the presence of a child in Great Monks Wood, Essex.

Magistrate Paul Jee said there was a "deliberate" and "high level" of suffering.

"In the first instance, there was the use of a 'hard terrier' which was chasing and biting the fox underground, and still hanging on to it when it came out," he said.

"We heard that the fox was picked up by his brush, which would have caused terror and suffering ,and we saw for ourselves repeated attempts to stab the fox with a fork. Whether it pierced the skin or not, we don't know, the body was never found."

Paul O'Shea 'repeatedly stabbed' a fox with a pitchfork

Paul O'Shea 'repeatedly stabbed' a fox with a pitchfork - Credit: North London Hunt Saboteurs

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O'Shea was sentenced to 18 weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and banned from owning dogs for five years.

He was ordered to pay £105 in costs and a £128 victim surcharge.

Rhys Giles, an NLHS member living in Primrose Hill, said after the sentencing: "This is welcome news for anyone who supports the protection of wildlife against cruelty and abuse but this case is just the tip of the iceberg.

"Illegal hunting is still rampant, and while it exists, so will we.

"We'll keep exposing animal killers and spoiling their 'fun' but to continue we need the support of our community in north London. 

"You can help us, eat some tasty food, hear some great live music and have a fantastic evening by getting a ticket to the Fantastic Fox Fundraising Feast on August 6 at Manna in Primrose Hill."

Philip Walters, from NLHS, added: “This is yet another blow to fox hunting in the UK.”

For tickets to the fundraiser visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-fantastic-fox-fundraising-feast-tickets-374240482357