A ‘notorious’ hunt saboteur has been branded a “danger to the public” by a judge as he was jailed.
Paul Allman, 48, was part of a “militia” dressed in black who confronted the Wynnstay Hunt in Cuddington, Cheshire, before he struck two supporters, knocking one to the floor.
Allman is part of a group that routinely target hunts known as the “Stockport Monitors”.
When appearing in the dock last Friday, Allman already had a suspended sentence for his involvement in a separate attack on a 15-year-old girl and two men, aged 61 and 52, as they watched the Cottesmore Hunt in Oakham, Leicestershire.
Sentencing him to 20 weeks in custody, district judge John McGarva said that Allman was a “danger to the public” and “had a history of violent offending”, reports The Telegraph.
Chester Magistrates’ Court was told how there was a confrontation between a group of saboteurs and two hunt supporters, Hugh Hutchinson-Smith and James Thompson, in November 2021.
Alan Currums, prosecuting, said Mr Thompson had gone to open a gate to a field to provide access to a group of 25 to 30 riders taking part in the trail hunt.
As he got off his horse, he became aware of two Land Rover Discovery vehicles containing 10 people dressed in black uniforms, which he described as “a militia”.
Video footage shot by Mr Hutchinson-Smith and played in court showed the group blocking the gate, with Allman sat on top of it.
Allman said: “You’re not coming through.” He repeatedly shouted at Mr Hutchinson-Smith: “Go on, do something.”
The footage then shows Allman striking out at Mr Hutchinson-Smith and knocking a mobile phone from his hand.
Mr Currums told the court that the defendant then struck Mr Thompson – who had been pushed and shoved – to the face, causing him to fall to the ground.
Mr Thompson got back up, he said, but was then struck by another saboteur.
Both sustained injuries, Mr Hutchinson-Smith a swollen jaw and an injured ear drum and Mr Thompson a broken jaw that needed surgery and stitches.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Thompson said he had suffered flashbacks since the incident and had developed “a nervous disposition around people he doesn’t know”.
He added that he had increased security measures at his family home due to the intimidatory tactics used by saboteurs and “fear of reprisals”.
Mr Thompson said that he regarded the group “as a danger to society” who will stop people coming to the countryside due their “intimidating tactics”.
The court did not accept Allman had acted in self-defence or in preventing a crime, namely fox hunting, and he was found guilty of two counts of assault in June.
The judge described the group as a “baying mob” and said Allman had played a leading role in the incident.
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “Paul Allman is a clear danger to law-abiding hunt supporters and indeed the wider public. It is right he is being placed behind bars.
“Within the small murky underworld of hunt saboteurs, Allman is considered one of its most notorious henchmen. His actions are however representative of hunt saboteurs across the country who demonstrate this type of appalling behaviour regularly.
“In the interest of protecting the public, it is vital police forces across the country take the threat and danger hunt saboteurs pose incredibly seriously and respond to complaints about their activity promptly and robustly.”
Allman has history, with previous convictions including one in March 2019 for assaulting the master of the Cheshire Hunt, for which he was fined £200.
In September 2022 he was handed an 18-week sentence, suspended for a year, after he was one of five hunt saboteurs convicted at Leicester Magistrates’ Court for public order offences at the Cottesmore Hunt in January 2022.