Hunter pleads guilty after trampling a hunt sab

Hunter Chris Mardles has pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm after trampling a sab with his horse. Mardles was the whipper-in of the Pytchley with Woodland Hunt when he injured the sab in September 2020.

Mel Broughton, a member of Northants Hunt Saboteurs, suffered from a collapsed lung, six broken ribs, a broken collar bone and a shattered shoulder blade. He had to be airlifted to hospital.

Mardles pleaded guilty to the section 18 GBH offence, meaning that he has admitted to intending to injure the victim. He will be sentenced on 25 April 2023. The maximum sentence for section 18 GBH is life imprisonment.

Broughton could have died

Following the news, Northants Sabs wrote:

“Mardles denied any charges throughout but this morning in court he plead guilty...

Let’s remember that our sab could have died out on the hunting field after what Chris Mardles did to him… For our sab who sustained these injuries and for our sabs who had to witness this incident, today can be looked at as a result.
But let’s make this very clear, the Pytchley Hunt who Mardles was employed by at the time will always be held responsible for this attack and if they think we will ever forget this then they can think again!”

Repeatedly targeted

Broughton has been targeted a number of times by hunt thugs. One year after he was almost killed, he suffered two more broken ribs when a Cottesmore Hunt steward assaulted him. At the time, a hunt sab told the London Economic that Broughton was attacked and “pulled clean off” a gate. The sab said:

“He’s broken two ribs… He was on the floor in a lot of distress and pain, struggling to breathe, going in and out of consciousness before being rushed to hospital.”

The London Economic continued:

“Broughton – who started disrupting hunts in the area in the 1980s – was attacked by the same steward on a public footpath two years ago, Tucker said. But assailant – who he described as “a big thug who will attack us and stop us from stopping the hunt” – was acquitted in court.”

Broughton was targeted yet again in December 2021 by members of the Cottesmore after he was trying to check on an injured horse. The horse later died. At the time, Broughton talked about the incident. As he and another sab attempted to come to the horse’s aid, they found themselves surrounded. Broughton said:

“A number of field riders were coming up behind us. One of them on a large grey-white horse got really angry and started using his horse against us. We had just offered to help but they were getting more and more aggressive and starting using the horse against us. The horse was forced into me and I was pushed into the hedge. I fell backwards into the hedge. They rammed the other guy with the camera onto the floor.”

Broughton continued:

“We were threatened by these people simply because we showed some concern for the horse. I have been hurt in the past and put in hospital several times but this time I was okay. I have been ridden into before. When you’re close to these people and their horses – and they are large – it’s really intimidating. Horses are powerful animals. They are more than willing to use them as a weapon. It was a very dangerous situation and completely unwarranted.”

Awaiting sentencing

As for Mardles, he awaits his fate. The Sentencing Council outlines the sentencing guidelines for section 18 GBH:

“Maximum: Life imprisonment
Offence range: 2 – 16 years’ custody”

Attacks on hunt sabs and monitors are very common, with hunt members seemingly thinking they’re above the law. Indeed, a hunt saboteur was trampled by Cottesmore huntsman Sam Jones just one month ago. Maybe, finally, hunt saboteurs will get a shred of justice for the injuries they sustain while monitoring hunts.


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