AN ANTI-hunt campaigner has been found guilty of common assault and harassing a hunt’s “terrier man” after he shot a fox.
Judith Hewitt, aged 67, of Hadley Crescent, Rhyl, who denied the charges and was described by a retired clergyman as a “Mother Teresa of the animal kingdom,” had put an edited video of the January confrontation with Robert Smith on YouTube, a district judge was told at Llandudno court.
District judge Gwyn Jones said emotions had been “running very, very high” and she had also put a photograph of Mr Smith on a webpage and used strong language.
The harassment charge alleged she trespassed on land and obstructed Mr Smith as he went about his work, posted offensive items on the internet and allowed offensive material to remain on websites.
Giving evidence, Mr Smith said he had been a terrier man for seven years. He said he had been controlling a fox which was harming pheasants on the Plas Newydd estate at Trefnant.
He described how after shooting the fox in the head, when it bolted from a hole, Hewitt went “ballistic”.
Mr Smith said: “She went absolutely hysterical. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She ran up the bank and was screaming and shouting, calling us devils and tried to take the fox off me.”
He claimed she was hitting him on the back.
After being found guilty, she was bailed for a pre-sentence report. Her QC John Cooper has objected to a restraining order sought by the prosecution banning her from private land in Denbighshire during Flint and Denbigh Hunt meetings.
Mr Cooper had clashed during the trial with landowner Anthony Griffiths and asked why it took him from January 28 until May 7 to inform the police.
He explained : “I didn't want to make a fuss, it's not in my nature and I took advice from the Countryside Alliance lawyer.”
Mr Cooper wondered whether it was “to get Judi Hewitt out of your hair and the Countryside Alliance hair”.
Mr Griffiths answered: “No”.
But he agreed he had spoken to police having been encouraged by the Countryside Alliance.
Mr Cooper told the judge his client was of “impeccable” character.
Hewitt said in evidence that she had never hit anyone and Mr Smith was lying.
She said she had been involved with animal welfare for 24 years but was a hunt "monitor" rather than a saboteur and would not deliberately break the law.
She believed they were “flushing” an animal out for the hunt.
Fellow “monitor” Emma Thomas denied a prosecution claim that Hewitt "lost the plot a little bit".
Judge Jones said both sides held “polarized” views and the issue of countryside pursuits caused “a great deal of emotion”.
But Mr Smith “was acting reasonably in all the circumstances,” he gave “credible” evidence, and the defendant allowed her feelings “to overcome common sense”.