A hunt master and his partner have been found guilty of animal cruelty charges after live fox cubs were thrown into kennels for their hounds to eat.
Paul Oliver, 40, was captured in harrowing footage tossing the animals for his dogs to ravage before their carcasses were later found dumped in a wheelie bin.
The hunt’s master of hounds and kennel maid Hannah Rose, 30, went on trial alongside terrierman Nathan Parry, 40, at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court last week.
Today the couple were convicted of four charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal while Parry was acquitted.
JPs heard how Oliver had been secretly filmed preparing to feed the foxes to his hunt hounds at the kennels in Wormelow, Herefordshire.
Anti-hunt activists contacted police after installing hidden cameras at the South Herefordshire Hunt kennels in May 2016.
The covert recordings were played to the court which showed Oliver carrying a fox cub into the kennels as hounds can be heard barking.
Minutes later he is seen emerging from the kennel and dumping the dead animal into a commercial bin before spraying it with a liquid.
The defendants claimed the animals had been killed before being given to the dogs by a blow to the head with an axe.
But District Judge Joanna Dickens told the pair she did not believe their account of events and found them both guilty following a week long trial.
Rose wept in the dock as she was convicted of the charge while her long-term partner Oliver remained emotionless.
The judge told them: “The covert video footage speaks for itself and has not been disputed.
“Fox one died as a result of an injury to the chest, there was no evidence of any injury to the head or any suggestion of a blow to the head.
“I am sure the injury to the chest didn’t cause the cub to die instantaneously.
“It is impossible the second fox was hit over the head as there was no skull injury, it more than likely the fox was dropped on the floor.
“One hound killed the foxes.
“Oliver had said he took this post up in May 2016. Farmers were complaining about foxes on their land and he would refer them to Parry.
“Mr Parry believed the fox cubs were going to be relocated and had no knowledge of their deaths.
“I accepted Rose wasn’t directly involved in the killing of the cubs.”
The court heard how an animal rights investigator captured the moment the fox cubs were fed to the dogs after placing a magnetic tracker on a Land Rover.
Karl Garside said covert cameras were installed near white trailers on site of SHH Kennels, where he also found a fox cub in a cage.
Giving evidence from behind a screen Mr Gardside said:”Fox hunting was banned in 2005, so we put the camera in there to establish why the fox cub was in there.
“On May 16, 2016, a man can be seen carrying a fox cub out of the back of the trailer and then you can hear the noises of hounds barking.
“In the early hours of the morning on May 26, 2016 I went back to the kennels and we found two alive fox cubs in the cage on the ground.
“A man in a black t-shirt with a cap on can be seen carrying a fox cub by the scruff of its neck at 10.19am.
“Another camera caught a different angle of the fox cub being taken on May 27, 2016.
“The man with the cap can be seen putting the dead fox into a bin. He is then seen taking another fox cub into the kennel.
“He is then seen spraying something onto the foxes in the bin, we went the to site later and saw the fox cubs in the bin, they looked blue.”
Julie Elmore, 55, of Abergavenny, Wales, and Paul Reece, 48, from Itton, Wales ,have already admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Oliver and Rose, of Spalding, Lincs., are expected to be sentenced this afternoon.