Three hunt followers have been given community orders after a Boxing Day fracas with hunt saboteurs.
Trouble flared on December 26, 2014 when the Colne Valley Beagles planned a meeting close to the Jack O’Mitre pub at Scammonden.
Danny O’Brien, Robert Walker and Gareth Nicholson were among those attending to support the hunt when a van containing the anti-hunt protesters turned up, Leeds Crown Court heard.
Sentencing the trio for affray Recorder Richard Wright QC said: “As is a common feature of such gatherings whilst there are those who support hunting in all its forms there are equally those who oppose hunting in all its forms and seek to protest lawfully against it.”
He said when the anti-hunt protesters attended “unfortunately on this day things got badly out of hand.”
He told the three: “I am satisfied none of you were there that day for the purpose of trouble but were all there to participate in a countryside pursuit you all enjoyed and feel very passionate about and I am quite sure that contributed to tempers over-flowing and all of you losing control.”
Recorder Wright said the protesters, who had earlier had a window smashed in their van by others not in court, were filming the hunt followers.
Having seen some footage it appeared that filming was what caused “the matter to boil over and violence to begin.”
He added: “You all should have known better than to go and engage with anti-hunt protesters and having done so tempers flared and violence broke-out.”
He said Walker, in spite of his age, good character and standing in the community had assaulted one of them having lost his temper. O’Brien joined in and also punched at people in the van.
Nicholson, the least involved according to the prosecution had done some “pushing and shoving” but because he was “a big lad” that was intimidating, said Recorder Wright.
But he said they had faced an entirely “inexplicable and wholly unacceptable delay” in the case being prosecuted and reaching court and that could be reflected in the sentence.
All three admitted affray and were given a 12 month community order. Walker, 65, a retired butcher, of Tudor Street, Linthwaite, of previous good character, was ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work.
O’Brien, 20, of Pike Law Road, Scapegoat Hill, was ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and Nicholson, 20 of Bottomley Lane, Stainland, Halifax, also of previous good character was ordered to do 60 hours unpaid work. The court heard a fourth defendant, Nicholson’s best friend had died last weekend following a car crash.