Local News & Archive — June 22, 2016 at 4:04 pm — Updated: June 22, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Rhyl anti-hunt campaigner loses assault appeal

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An anti-hunt campaigner from Rhyl has lost an appeal to overturn her conviction for attacking a terrier man.

A panel cleared Judith Hewitt of harassing Robert Smith of the Flint and Denbigh Hunt two years ago but decided not to acquit the 69 year-old of common assault after he shot a fox on a Trefnant estate. A video of the incident was later posted on YouTube.

Hewitt, a hunt monitor, told Mold Crown Court that she had been the subject of an online hate campaign since the incident. She had denied assaulting Mr Smith – and her defence had argued that she was acting to prevent another crime of digging a badger sett where the fox had been shot dead.

The claim was dismissed by a judge and two magistrates – who ruled that Hewitt had ”large blanks in her memory” of what happened because she had been consumed by her emotions.

But the panel found there was no case to answer on the charge of harassment. They ruled a number of Hewitt’s postings on several websites, including Facebook, had not been directed at Mr Smith.

Mr Smith told the court he had been given permission by the landowner of the Plas Newydd estate to hunt foxes with a terrier because pheasants were being killed. He said Hewitt had tried to stop him getting a fox out of a hole in the ground – she believed the fox would be led to the path of the hunt.

Hewitt became seriously upset and was screaming after the fox was killed. She pleaded with him to hand over the fox so she could lay it to rest, but he refused. Mr Smith said she struck him at the back, either slapping or punching him, to get the dead fox.

Police later arrived with armed officers and the force helicopter amid allegations that Mr Smith had threatened her with a gun – which Hewitt had denied claiming.

Leading the panel, Judge Geraint Walters told the court that although the panel did not condemn her for lying to the court in any deliberate sense, her emotions had completely affected her memory and reason.

”She sees things now rather differently to what they were during this highly charged and emotional episode. We are sure that she did strike him and equally sure that she was not doing so to prevent any crime from being committed.”

The judge added Hewitt felt real pain about the death of the fox and was passionate for her cause, but although the court did not doubt her sincerity, it ultimately determined that she was ”labouring under intense emotion”.

Hewitt, who had been fined for harassment in 2014, was given a year’s conditional discharge with no further court costs.

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