Two members of the East Essex Hunt will appear in court on 22 June, charged with Hunting Act and animal cruelty offences. 49-year-old Paul O’Shea, who is a terrier man for the hunt, and his 16-year-old daughter, were covertly filmed by North London Hunt Sabs last year. The sabs’ footage, filmed on 4 December 2021, caught the two carrying out the most horrific animal cruelty, using both a dog and a pitchfork to murder a fox. 

Credit: North London Hunt Sabs

Both O’Shea and his daughter are charged with hunting a wild mammal with dogs, while O’Shea is additionally charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal. 

The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) reported on the incident in December, stating that the cruel act took place at an artificial earth in Great Monks Wood, two miles from the East Essex Hunt kennels.   The HSA said:

“The pair first approach the earth at 1.30pm to confirm a fox is present. They then return a couple of hours later armed with a terrier, rods, a net and pitchfork. They place the net over one end of the earth then use the rods and terrier to force the trapped fox into the net.”

ITV News was given the film, and reported what happened next:

“[The fox is] bitten by a dog, but once the man removes the fox from the jaws of the dog, he grabs the gardening tool and stabs at it repeatedly. Fighting for its life, the fox struggles trying to bite at the fork, but the man persists until eventually - with fox in hand - he leaves.”

The HSA explained why hunts use artificial earth. It said:

“Hunts build artificial earths, an underground network of pipes and chambers, to encourage foxes into an area. They are then trapped in the earth and released before a hunt to be chased and killed. This artificial earth was rebuilt in 2020 and North London sabs have been monitoring it since then with concealed cameras.”

Credit: North London Hunt Sabs

Complicity of the hunt

O’Shea has been a terrier man for East Essex Hunt for more than thirty years, while his wife Wendy is a hunt master. O’Shea’s father, John, was huntsman for 36 years. The hunt, will, no doubt, deny any complicity in the torture of the fox. But the HSA has pointed out:

“When the East Essex Hunt masters deny all knowledge of and involvement in the sickening acts of cruelty shown in this video, it should be remembered that one of them is married to the man wielding the pitchfork!”

Indeed, the actions the hunt’s most prominent family only proves what saboteurs have been saying for years, that the East Essex Hunt can’t be trusted to hunt within the law. 

O’Shea is, of course, not the only hunt member in the UK that is currently facing criminal charges under the Hunting Act. Charles Carter, huntsman for the Royal Artillery Hunt, will soon face trial for illegal hunting. Meanwhile, Beaufort Hunt’s hunt master, Matthew Ramsden, and whipper-in, Rhys Matcham, also face trial for hunting a wild mammal with dogs. |And in Dorset, Mark Anthony Pearson has also been charged with hunting a fox contrary to Schedule 1 of the Hunting Act. Pearson is joint master and huntsman for the South Dorset Hunt.

Support North London Hunt Sabs

Of course, most of the time, hunts and their staff get away with chasing and torturing foxes, with police forces around the country usually ignoring blatant evidence of illegal hunting. It is only the persistent efforts of hunt sabs on the ground that ensure that any hunt members are actually charged. 

Please support North London Hunt Sabs, whose covert footage led to O’Shea and his daughter being charged. You can donate to the group here

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