fox hunting

Notorious fox hunter Mark Pearson to appear in court again

Dorset Police has announced that three fox hunters will appear in court on 7 June 2023, charged under the Hunting Act.

Evidence gathered from North Dorset Hunt Saboteurs has been instrumental in charging Mark Pearson, Tom Lyle and Marcus Boundy of hunting a wild animal with dogs.

Dorset Police said:

“It follows an investigation by Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team into an incident involving the Portman Hunt on Thursday 15 September 2022.”

Notorious Pearson

Mark Pearson is well known in the south-west for his prominent role in hunting foxes. He’s the current master-huntsman of the South Dorset Hunt, and ex-master of the Portman Hunt. He was found guilty of illegal hunting with the South Dorset Hunt after his pack killed two foxes in November 2021. Unaware that he was being filmed, Pearson continually encouraged the hounds to “carry on” chasing one of the foxes. However, in March 2023, Pearson’s conviction was overturned after a judge concluded that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to find that Pearson was seeking to encourage the pack to hunt foxes.

Hunt saboteurs and monitors on the ground have caught Pearson hunting animals numerous times. A few examples include:

  • In October 2022, Dorset Against Bloodsports published a video of Pearson on horseback at the Portman Hunt. In the video, Pearson appears to say, “it is the same fox, it is the same fox. It was seen over there…same fox in the bag… What are they going to do? Arrest us?”
  • On 6 November 2022, a Weymouth Animal Rights report stated that Pearson had chased and killed a deer.
  • Less than a week later, the South Dorset Hunt’s hounds killed a fox soon after leaving the meet at Broadmayne. This time the incident was witnessed by a member of the public.

Increase in hunting cases

Since the Hunt Saboteurs Association published leaked webinars of top hunt official Mark Hankinson admitting that trail hunting – where hounds follow an artificially-laid scent – is a smokescreen to get away with illegal hunting, we have seen an increase in hunt arrests. Some police forces are taking illegal hunting more seriously, and Protect The Wild has reported on a number of recent police investigations and court cases against hunt staff.

Under the Hunting Act as it stands, with all its loopholes, it is difficult to get a guilty verdict. This is due to the fact that the prosecution needs to prove that the person accused was intent on hunting wildlife. It is this burden of intent that has seen cases dismissed or, in Pearson’s previous case, guilty verdicts overturned. In recent months we have seen the trails of other notorious hunters, such Charles Carter, falling through because of supposed lack of evidence, or on technicalities.

But we have also seen hunters such as Ollie Finnegan making national headlines as they are found guilty under the Hunting Act. And on 20 March Duncan and Verity Drewett will be defending themselves in court under section 3 of the Hunting Act. Section 3 makes it a crime for landowners to knowingly allow their land to be used to illegally hunt an animal. This will be the first known case of a Section 3 charge as it relates to hunting with hounds. Hunt saboteurs were also hoping that Mark Pearson, too, would be charged under Section 3 of the Act, yet this hasn’t happened.

It is, of course, the evidence gathered by monitors and sabs on the ground, as well as covert investigators, which ensure the prosecution of hunt staff. Those who actively try to prevent hunters from making kills often face harassment and physical aggression, so it’s vital that we support them.

Mark Pearson, Tom Lyle and Marcus Boundy wouldn’t be facing prosecution if it wasn’t for the hard work of North Dorset Sabs. You can donate them here.


Featured image via Shutterstock