Ollie Finegan

Disgraced hunter Ollie Finnegan fails to show up for court

Cheshire huntsman Ollie Finnegan failed to turn up at Crewe Magistrates Court on 13 June 2023. He was due to enter a plea to two charges of hunting a wild mammal with dogs.

Cheshire Against Blood Sports (CABS) told Protect the Wild that Finnegan’s legal representation didn’t show up to court, either. The trial has been listed for 26 July, and if Finnegan doesn’t attend, it will be heard in his absence.

On top of this, it was mentioned in court that the disgraced hunter is not actually even in the UK.

CABS said:

“We didn’t actually expect him to turn up in person, though we thought he would be represented at least.”

The first Hunting Act charge relates to a meet that took place at Chorley Green on 22 November 2022. The second relates to an incident a few days later, on 26 November, at Marbury.

Three offences in less than a year

Only half a year ago, Finnegan made mainstream news headlines after he pleaded guilty to another charge of illegally hunting with dogs. He had no choice but to enter the plea after police seized his phone and found WhatsApp messages incriminating him. He was working for the Quorn Hunt at the time.

If Finnegan is found guilty of two more counts of illegal hunting, it will be his second and third conviction under the Hunting Act in less than a year.

Finnegan is no stranger to court appearances. He was previously cleared of illegal hunting with the Quorn Hunt in August 2021. Back then he, along with whipper-in Rhys Matcham, insisted that the hunt had laid an artificial scent for hounds to follow, despite footage showing a fox emerging from a covert during the meet.

Before that, back in 2019, when he was whipper-in for the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt, Finnegan once again pleaded not guilty to illegal hunting. The case against him was dismissed after two of the hunt members pleaded guilty.


Ollie Finnegan

‘Important case’

Protect the Wild has previously reported on the fact that Cheshire is a hotspot for illegal hunting. Despite this, there has never been a successful conviction for illegal hunting in the county.

CABS told us:

“This is an important case, not only for Cheshire but also for the wider implications around the ‘trail hunt smokescreen’.

Indeed, multiple convictions of one prominent hunter blow the smokescreen argument – that packs are actually following a legal, artificially-laid trail rather than a real fox – out of the window.

CABS’s evidence will be used in the upcoming trial. The group said:

“There’s a lot of footage and it’s very damning. The fact that Cheshire and Merseyside CPS authorised charges for the first time since the Hunting Act came in shows that it’s a strong case.

We hope to see justice served for the wildlife that was terrorised by Ollie Finnegan and the Cheshire Hunt during the 2022/23 hunt season.”

Hunt saboteurs and monitors caught Finnegan hunting foxes time and time again during the 2022/23 season. CABS previously told us:

“This hunt under his guidance has hunted foxes all season, it’s been relentless. Why he wasn’t sacked immediately is a mystery. No other professional would still be in a job for a criminal breach.”

Where is Finnegan?

Could it be that Finnegan has left the UK because he is too toxic for other hunts to take him on? It remains to be seen whether he will appear in court for his trial. If he fails to turn up without reasonable excuse, the CPS can apply for a warrant for his arrest. He can be fined or imprisoned for the separate offence of failing to attend court.

Whether he attends or not, he won’t be coming back to the Cheshire Hunt for the upcoming 2023/24 season. He has been replaced by Robert Truscott, who was previously at the now-defunct Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt. CABS said:

“It’s disappointing that with the departure of Finnegan that the Cheshire Hunt has chosen to appoint Robert Truscott as huntsman – who also has a reputation for hunting foxes – for the upcoming season. This appointment suggests that it will be ‘business’ as usual for the Cheshire Hunt for the 23/24 season.”

CABS continued:

“We have increased our numbers, so we will be doing everything we can to protect Cheshire’s wildlife.”


Support Cheshire Against Blood Sports. The group’s work on the ground is essential in preventing foxes from being killed, and the group’s footage ensures that men like Finnegan are charged. Donate to Cheshire Against Blood Sports here. Follow them on Facebook

Featured images of Ollie Finnegan via CABS