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Two men convicted for assault on charity investigators
Sentencing has been adjourned until 14 June.
Former police officer suffered a broken neck during the attack

A father and son have pleaded guilty to a serious assault on animal charity workers who were monitoring fox hunting activities in Leicestershire, according to the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS).

The defendants, George Grant, 57, and Thomas Grant, 25, of Briary Cottage, are associated with the Belvoir Hunt. They are reported to have appeared at Leicester Crown Court yesterday (10 April), regarding the alleged attack on Darryl Cunnington and Roger Swaine, who were working as investigators for the league.

Mr Cunnington, a former police officer, was treated for broken neck vertebrae after the incident, which took place on 12 March 2016 close to the village of Stathern. The two convicted men and four unidentified masked men are said to have punched, then pushed the investigators off a 14-foot ledge, before escaping with one of their cameras.

George and Thomas Grant pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm on Mr Cunnington, actual bodily harm on Mr Swaine, theft of a video camera and criminal damage to a memory card. Sentencing is adjourned until 14 June.

Mr Cunnington, who is LACS head of field operations, said: “Hopefully this will send out a message to all hunts that they cannot carry out assaults on people who wish to monitor their activities.

“If they are operating within the law as they claim, then they have nothing to hide. By attacking monitors and stealing camera equipment they have shown they fear their hunting activities being recorded, and the possibility of prosecution.

“l am very lucky that the assault has left me with no long-term serious injuries. After falling fourteen feet, finding myself unable to move, I feared I was paralysed. The offenders showed no remorse and left us injured. The fact they refused to cooperate with the police shows no remorse or concern.”

Mr Swaine added: “I’m delighted by the result today. The Investigations team have a policy of non-interference and we are there purely to record any hunting or other cruelty offences. We were filming the Belvoir Hunt from a public bridleway from a distance of 1km. This violent response by an employee of the Hunt and five others was unprovoked and a complete overreaction.

“My colleague Darryl Cunnington was lucky not to have been killed. This conviction sends a powerful message to hunts up and down the country that you cannot simply attack anyone in the vicinity who happens to have a camera or who may disagree with your activities.”

The East Midland BBC Inside Out programme filmed with the investigators during the 2016 fox hunting season and captured footage of the aftermath of the assault: https://www.facebook.com/bbceastmids/videos/1474890175861401/

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