Hunt protester was airlifted to hospital after North Tawton altercation
- Credit: Devon County Hunt Saboteurs
A hunt protester was airlifted to hospital after being struck by an Eggesford huntmaster, magistrates have been told.
Jason Marles, the 37-year-old master of the Eggesford Hunt based at Wembworthy, denied using threatening and abusive behaviour to cause harassment, alarm and distress but was convicted after a day long trial at Exeter Magistrates Court on Friday (July 5).
The court heard how Jessica Groling suffered a bruised liver and was airlifted to hospital by an air ambulance in a clash which was caught on her Go Pro camera.
Prosecutor Richard Parkhouse said police were called to Slade farm near North Tawton, one afternoon last December following an incident which Ms Groling recorded.
The footage was shown to the court and showed Marles riding his horse at speed towards Ms Growling and her fellow protester Jessica Swallow.
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Marles then dismounts and grapples with Ms Groling as he prises away an antique hunting horn she had been using to distract the hunt's pack of hounds from chasing a fox.
Ms Groling told the court in her evidence: "Marles was galloping straight at us at high speed. I thought he is going to trample us. He was heading straight for us and I felt terrified.
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"I was not sure he would not hit us. He then stopped a few metres away and leapt off the horse and came straight for me with a riding crop in his left hand.
"He had it raised and he was coming straight at me."
She claimed Marles 'stabbed my abdomen with his riding crop' and said it was this that caused her liver injury which needed a week of recovery.
Her footage heard Marles swearing that the pair were putting his hounds in danger - an allegation she called 'preposterous'.
The court heard the protesters wanted to save the life of a fox but the magistrates said there was no assertion being made that illegal hunting was being carried out and the landowner had given the hunt permission to ride over his land.
Daniel Gill, defending Marles, said her claims were 'massively exaggerated and motivated by her dislike of the hunt' which she replied was 'ludicrous and preposterous'.
Marles said he pulled her horn from Ms Groling's grasp and denied he was angry, but said he was frustrated by her actions.
Exeter magistrates convicted Marles telling him: "You saw red and lost control, that was patently clear."
They said his use of the riding crop was 'reckless rather than deliberate'.
They said his account was unbelievable whereas the evidence of the two hunt protesters had been 'clear, concise and credible'.
Magistrates said the victim was 'clearly in distress and alarmed'.
Marles, who has no previous convictions, will be sentenced later this month.