The militant hunt supporter who achieved notoriety by dumping a dead horse outside the Labour Party conference has been banned from keeping guns after being branded a danger to the public.
A judge backed the Hampshire deputy chief constable, who personally revoked 47-year-old James Butcher’s firearms and shotgun licences.
Recorder Simon Rainey turned down Mr Butcher’s appeal against the ban, branding him a volatile danger to the public if he had a gun in his hand, and telling him to pay £1,500 legal costs.
Mr Butcher, who lives in a mobile home off Ashey Road, Ryde, was filmed by hunt monitors at an IW Hunt ‘meet’ on March 12 hurling threats and a stream of abuse – and at one stage being held back by three hunt supporters.
The court was told it was Mr Butcher and an accomplice who dumped a horse carcase and dead calves outside the Labour Party conference in 2004 to highlight the fact animals would no longer be fed to hounds if hunting was banned.
And the court was told it was Mr Butcher who last year accepted a police caution for shooting fledging rooks for the menu of The Taverners pub, Godshill.
The DVD of the March 12 IW Hunt meet, played to the court on Friday, showed Mr Butcher on his quad bike, in one exchange telling a protester: “I’ll tear your head off”.
Mr Butcher told the court he was associated with the IW Hunt since the early 1990s and became a professional terrier-man, worked in the kennels and shot foxes with his 32 calibre single-shot pistol after they were flushed out.
He said he was regularly abused by monitors, who de described as “saboteurs out to disrupt our day” and on March 12 had been spat at three times before he behaved in the way he was “not very pleased with.”
Mr Butcher, who resigned from the IW Hunt on November 1, used his shotguns for commercial pest control and the humane killer pistols for foxes and for putting down injured farm animals.
The court heard a number of references from the farming community and shooting enthusiasts praising his professionalism.
But dismissing the appeal, the judge said: “We believe there is an appreciable and real risk he might misuse firearms to the detriment of public safety because there is evidence of violent, aggressive and anti-social behaviour during hunting, which forms a large part of his life.”
“One of his bouts of anger may escalate higher.”
After the ruling, Tim Bonner, of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, who was in court, said: “We remain uncomfortable the chief constable can remove a man’s shotgun and firearms certificates and effectively strip him of his livelihood on the basis of unproven evidence that did not even result in prosecution.”