Chris Woodward

Wynnstay huntsman pleads guilty of threatening behaviour

Wynnstay huntsman Chris Woodward has pleaded guilty to causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress, an offence under the Public Order Act. The hunter rode his horse at a Cheshire Monitors volunteer during a fox hunting meet on 7 January 2023.

Woodward galloped towards the monitor on his horse, almost knocking the man to the ground. At the same time he screamed:

“F*ck off now! That’s my f*cking job. If you do that again I’ll f*cking kill you! Do you hear? You leave them alone; that’s my responsibility!”

The monitors previously told Protect the Wild that multiple foxes had been seen to safety that day, and that Woodward “clearly couldn’t cope with the pressure.”

Criminal record

Responding to the guilty plea, Cheshire Monitors celebrated, saying:

“He now has a criminal record, has to do 200 hours of community service, pay our runner compensation, and pay court costs! He’s also lost his firearms license which could have an effect on his culling of innocents! We are pleased with the outcome, particularly because his defence tried every trick in the book to get him a lenient sentence but the judge was having none of it!”
Woodward had previously evaded getting a hunting-related criminal record. He appeared in court in December 2022 after video footage showed him riding behind a pack of hounds as they chased a fox, and taking no action to stop them. Woodward was found not guilty of illegal hunting for this incident, but only after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the monitor’s video from the evidence bundle at the last minute. At the same time, Woodward was on trial for another incident of illegal hunting after North Wales Police officers also witnessed Woodward chasing a fox on a different date. But he was found not guilty of this charge, too.

Heythrop Hunt

Woodward has now left the Wynnstay. According to Cheshire Monitors:

“we are told that the Heythrop Hunt have been landed with him! Good luck to them because he really isn’t starting his service off on a good footing is he?”

It is, perhaps, no surprise that Woodward has moved on – he is far too much of a liability for the Wynnstay, which Cheshire Monitors says has been struggling, and has been “haemorrhaging support and land to hunt on.”

The Heythrop Hunt, too, isn’t without its controversies, though. In 2008, the Heythrop’s huntsman, Julian Barnfield, was the first person to be charged under the Hunting Act after the law came into force. The CPS dropped the charges after a High Court ruling made a distinction between searching for a mammal and actively hunting it. And in 2013, long before major landowners banned so-called ‘trail hunting’ on their land, the National Trust banned the Heythrop from hunting after Barnfield and Richard Sumner were found guilty under the Hunting Act.

Like other hunts across the country, the Heythrop has also caused havoc on roads, too. It was accused of endangering the lives of motorists after its pack chased a fox across a road near Chipping Norton in 2020.

Support Cheshire Monitors

Although Woodward has left the Wynnstay, monitors and hunt saboteurs will still have their work cut out trying to prevent the hunt from murdering more foxes in the upcoming 2023/24 season. You can support Cheshire Monitors by donating to the group here, or you can volunteer with them on the ground. Find out more about volunteering with them here.


  • Monitors and sabs constantly face harassment from hunts and their followers. But what is ‘harassment’? For an explanation see our Protectors of the Wild page > Harassment and the Law