Trial clears three hunt members

THREE leading members of a North Yorkshire hunt were cleared yesterday of allegations of fox hunting after a three-day hearing.

Anthony Graham Winter, 44 , Master of the Sinnington Hunt, of Sykehead Lane, Nawton, in Helmsley, his partner, Caroline Scott, 37, whipper in of the hounds, and hunt follower, Wilfred Gamble 65, of Beckett Close, Nawton, had each pleaded not guilty to hunting a fox with dogs in December last year, contrary to the Hunting Act.

District judge Simon Hickey adjourned the case last Friday after submissions were made by Robert Woodcock, QC for the defendants and the Countryside Alliance, that the three had no cases to answer.

Resuming the hearing yesterday at Scarborough Crown Court, Judge Hickey agreed there was no case to answer against Ms Scott, but wanted further evidence from the defence regarding Mr Winter and Mr Gamble.

John Paul Swoboda for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the three were not trail hunting, as was claimed. League Against Cruel Sports officials had kept watch for two hours.

But Mr Woodcock described the evidence as "weak", adding that a fox seen on video taken by a LACS officials showed it wandering across the former Wombleton Airfield near Kirkbymoorside while the hounds went in the opposite direction. "Clearly the fox was not being hunted," he said.