A hunt enthusiast and associate of Prince Charles had been sentenced to 15 months for viciously attacking a Director of the League Against Cruel Sports.
Anthony Kirkham, a member of the Cheshire Foxhounds, was convicted of robbery at Mold Crown Court. The presiding Judge, Mr Recorder Gerard Elias QC, described the incident as a serious offence which involved ‘targeted violence’.
Christopher Owen sustained severe bruising and a dislocated jaw during the attack. He is still receiving treatment for leg injuries. Mr Owen was hit with a bottle, pushed to the ground and kicked in the head in February. The court heard that Mr Owen had been singled out by a red-coated huntsman shortly before he was set upon. Kirkham, of Ridley Farm near Toorporley, had then chased Mr Owen across a field, shouting ‘we’ve got you now, you’re dead, let’s have your camera.’
In 1995 Kirkham, 53, was convicted of violent disorder and sentenced to 12 months after attacking hunt protestors with a pick axe handle. Despite his violent record he has always been made welcome at the Cheshire Hunt, and on several occasions has enjoyed a day in the field with Prince Charles.
Kirkham’s conviction brings to twelve the number of hunt supporters this year convicted of violent offences against the opponents of hunting.
Mr Owen’s camera, valued at £1,300, was stolen during the incident. Although it was later recovered the film was missing. On the day of the attack Mr Owen was acting as a League Hunt Monitor, recording the activities of the hunt. League Monitors are instructed to not trespass or interfere with the hunt in any way. Evidence gathered by monitors has in the past resulted in the dismissal of Masters and embarrassment for hunt apologists.
Christopher Owen said: ‘The hunters are petrified of the video camera. It is our greatest weapon against them. I hope this sentence will send a clear message to hunt supporters that this kind of violent behaviour will not be tolerated. If someone is convicted of a violent assault they should be kicked out of the hunt, not invited back with open arms, as was the case with Mr Kirkham.’