Nick Bycroft, professional huntsman with the financially troubled Crawley and Horsham Hunt appeared today before Worthing magistrates court charged with a Hunting Act offence dating from January 2013. The crime occurred during a meet at Angmering Park, near Arundel, West Sussex on land owned by the trustees of the Angmering Park Trust. He pleased guilty and was sentenced to a conditional 12 month conditional discharge, £150 costs and a £15 victim surcharge by magistrates. The magistrate is a neighbour and knows Mr Bycroft but this was not considered a conflict of interest.
The compelling footage of the incident was taken from more than a mile away by a hunt saboteur using state of the art equipment, and presented to Sussex police who commissioned Professor Stephen Harris of Bristol University to examine and report on the footage. It is understood Bycroft refused to answer questions at interview and gave only a prepared statement: this could be because he was concerned Sussex police were keen to bring a body corporate prosecution under the Hunting Act (This could have included the Directors and Masters of the hunt). It is to be remembered Sussex police have successfully prosecuted three members of the same hunt in 2012 for Hunting Act offences – they were convicted of five offences and fined a total of £10,000 fines and costs. The indications are that Bycroft’s refusal to answer questions was intended to ensure he did not reveal who was present. The guilty plea and the corresponding paltry sentence indicates the plan has been successful.