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A man who stabbed a fox with a garden fork in Pattiswick has been sentenced to 18 weeks imprisonment (suspended) and 200 hours of community service after he admitted animal cruelty.
Paul O’Shea, 49, of Mount Bures, had previously admitted hunting a wild mammal with dogs – an offence under the Hunting Act 2004 – and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal – an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
He was also banned from keeping any dog for five years and further fined £233 total costs, when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday 1 August.
O’Shea had been captured on film in Great Monks Wood on 4 December 2021 using a Patterdale terrier to flush a fox out of an artificial earth and catching it in a net placed over the entrance, before attacking it with a garden fork.
He was identified from the film footage and officers from our Rural Engagement Team launched an investigation.
“This was a particularly nasty incident. The fox was attacked by the dog until O’Shea grabbed the fox by its tail to pull it out of the net. He then attacked the poor fox with a large garden fork, stabbing it several times, before kicking it.
“Sadly, we don’t know exactly what happened to the fox as the film did not capture this. What is certain is that the fox would have been caused a great deal of physical pain and discomfort, as well as mental terror.
“This is simply not acceptable.
“The film footage of the incident was extremely distressing. We were determined to ensure O’Shea did not get away with his cruel acts so we immediately sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, which helped us to secure the charges against him.”
PC Jed Raven, of our Rural Engagement Team, said:
“O’Shea maliciously targeted a fox with his dog before violently stabbing it with a garden fork.
“The footage that was captured showed his cruel treatment of the fox, and this key evidence led to O’Shea’s guilty pleas.
“Cruelty to animals is unacceptable and we are working closely with specialist police rural engagement teams across the country to bring perpetrators to justice.”
CPS district prosecutor Sally Robinson said:
“This was an abhorrent example of animal cruelty and hunting committed by a terrierman in the East Essex Hunt. Mr O’Shea flushed a fox and then utilised a pitchfork to commit unnecessary suffering to it.
“The Crown Prosecution Service take all cases of animal cruelty and hunting offences seriously and where the Full Code Test is met, will take steps to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”
O’Shea received no separate penalty for hunting a wild mammal with dogs – an offence under the Hunting Act 2004.