A HUNTSMAN who threw a helpless fox to be savaged by hounds has been given a suspended prison sentence. 

Oliver Francis Thompson, 32, formerly of the Old Berkshire Hunt in Oxfordshire, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing an animal unnecessary suffering.

He was employed by the Avon Vale Hunt in Wiltshire when he committed the offences in 2020, which also included baiting a dog with a fox he had trapped.

In footage recorded in July 2020, shared between the defendant and his associates, Thompson is shown with a young fox in a trap, with his dog Nellie being encouraged to bark and menace the animal at very close quarters.

Later, the fox is taken out of the trap by Thompson and, held by the scruff of his neck, is repeatedly thrust at the barking dog 19 times.

In a second incident filmed on Christmas Eve in December 2020, Thompson, in a hunting jacket, is shown digging a fox out of its earth, surrounded by associates also wearing traditional hunting jackets, terriermen and a child. The live fox is then thrown into a pack of hounds.

At Swindon Magistrates' Court on December 11, the 32-year-old was handed a 20-week prison sentence suspended for two years.

South West Farmer: A fox being thrown to a pack of dogsA fox being thrown to a pack of dogs (Image: SWNS)He must also undertake 300 hours of unpaid work and pay £2,500 costs.

In addition, the terrier named Nellie was ordered to be handed over to the RSPCA.

Thompson’s Wiltshire-based associate Stuart Radbourne, who is also seen in one of the videos, was sentenced in October 2023 to a suspended prison sentence.

South West Farmer: A fox being used to bait a dogA fox being used to bait a dog (Image: SWNS)

Chief Inspector Will Mitchell, from the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit said: “This sickening video footage demonstrates the terrible levels of cruelty and suffering that we see inflicted on animals on a daily basis.

“We think of ourselves as a nation of animal lovers, but the RSPCA’s experience shows that there are still people out there that consider it a bit of fun to throw a live animal to a pack of hounds to be ripped apart or to incite a dog to attack a fox.

“Our thanks go to everyone who has helped in this successful prosecution.”