Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Huntsman facing jail over assault


Christopher Marles used his horse to knock the monitor to the ground

A Devon huntsman is facing prison after being found guilty of deliberately assaulting an animal rights activist.

Christopher Marles, 48, of Farringdon, used his horse to knock Helen Weeks to the ground as she filmed the East Devon Hunt, Honiton magistrates heard.

He was serving a suspended sentence for attacking another hunt monitor when the assault happened in March 2008.

Marles admitted assault but had denied he intended to hurt her. He will be sentenced next month.

Previous conviction

In October 2006, he was sentenced to nine months, suspended for two years, for causing actual bodily harm to 58-year-old Kevin Hill.

Mr Hill was left with two black eyes and needed six stitches after being punched while filming the Devon and Somerset Staghounds.

In the latest attack, magistrates heard Ms Weeks was filming near Whimpole as Marles repeatedly rode his horse into her. The footage was shown in court.

Christopher Marles
Marles repeatedly rode his horse into the hunt monitor, the court heard

The chairman of the bench, Elizabeth Hibbick, found Marles had intentionally assaulted Ms Weeks with his horse.

She accepted he had not tried to physically hurt her but that his idea was to put fear into her.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Weeks said: "I expected him to ride on by and he just turned his horse in one movement towards me.

"He didn't stop, he just carried on. He took the horse by surprise and the horse just went into my shoulder and pushed me into the ditch."

Michael Moore, Joint Master of the East Devon Hunt, said that the Hunt did not condone violence in any form.

"Mr Marles was an amateur whip with the hunt. He no longer holds that position. That decision was made by the Hunt," he said.

"We don't condone violence in any form from either side.

"It's unfortunate that this ever happened but we shall leave it to the courts to decide what happens now."

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