Pilot charged with killing hunt follower
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
COVENTRY–Heating technician, hunting opponent, and
gyrocopter pilot Bryan Griffiths, 54, of Bedworth, Warwickshire,
has been held by police since March 9, 2009 on a charge of murdering
hunt follower Trevor Morse, 48, of Alderminster, Warwickshire.
“Morse died of head injuries after he was struck by the
gyrocopter’s propeller at Long Marston airfield, near
Stratford-upon-Avon,” reported the London Times. “Magistrates in
Nuneaton, Warwickshire, were told that a witness videotaped the
incident, and the moments before it. The court was told that
Griffiths was a member of an anti-hunt animal rights campaign and
worked as a volunteer hunt monitor, liaising closely with police.
Warwickshire Police said that a second man arrested on suspicion of
murder was released on police bail pending further inquiries.”
“A gyrocopter had been following us for a couple of weeks and
we had made a formal complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority 10
days ago,” Warwickshire Hunt joint master Sam Butler told BBC News.
Summarized Lucy Bannerman and Valerie Elliott of the London
Times, “It is believed that Morse went with a friend to the airfield
to try to discover who piloted the gyrocopter. He and a woman were
believed to have approached the aircraft as it was refuelling.”
The incident came just over a month after the British High
Court upheld the acquittal of fox hunter Anthony Wright, who in 2006
was the first person charged with violating the 2004 Hunting Act.
The court ruled that while the Act forbids any deliberate pursuit of
a wild mammal with hounds, including hare coursing, it does not
forbid using hounds to stalk and flush out foxes to be shot, using
up to two dogs to track a wounded animal, using dogs to flush out
animals to be hunted by falcons, using dogs to flush birds to be
shot, and using dogs to hunt rodents.
The pro-hunting Countryside Alliance asserted that the High
Court verdict rendered the Hunting Act meaningless. The League
Against Cruel Sports is reportedly having to reassess 18 pending
prosecutions for alleged Hunting Act violations, but both League
Against Cruel Sports chief executive Douglas Batchelor and Royal SPCA
director of animal welfare promotion John Rolls told media that the
law can still be used.
Of the first 31 prosecutions under the Hunting Act, Guardian
environment editor John Vidal wrote, 28 were for hare coursing;
only three were for traditional fox hunting. Fox hunt participation
has soared since the Hunting Act took effect in 2005, but polls
commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports continue to show that
more than 70% of the British public favor the act, which was billed
as ending fox hunting.