Film man defiant after hunt attack A DORSET animal welfare officer vowed to carry on filming hunts after a man was convicted of beating him up.

Stag hunt follower Christopher Marles, 44, was convicted of attacking the animal welfare officer Kevin Hill, 55, from Beaminster.

Countryside Alliance member Marles repeatedly punched Mr Hill, a hunt monitor with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Sixteen-stone Marles, a livestock farmer from Farringdon, near Exeter, Devon, had pleaded not guilty to causing actual bodily harm to Mr Hill at the Devon and Somerset Staghounds hunt on October 27 last year.

Mr Hill suffered a bleeding face as well as a black eye during the attack, the jury heard.

Marles, an amateur whipper-in with the East Devon Hunt, told the court he initially pushed and shoved Mr Hill and tried to grab his camera. But he maintained he did not attack him, saying: "I certainly did not punch that man. I did not kick him. I did not see him bleeding."

Prosecutor David Evans said Mr Hill's job was to film hunts to ensure they were complying with the law.

He had gone to film the hunt with colleagues from IFAW.

Mr Hill told the court Marles tried to take his camera, so he crouched to protect it.

"He started punching me," said Mr Hill.

"On one occasion I saw his foot lift up. I was very frightened."

During the trial, the jury saw a 17-minute video which showed Marles confronting Mr Hill.

The footage showed someone trying to take the camera, though the lens was pointing towards the road, and did not show the attacker.

After the case, Mr Hill said: "We will not go away, we will not be driven away, we will always be there for the hunted animal.

"People have to be told what they do to us is not acceptable.

"There is a huge amount of arrogance in the hunting world, they believe they can do what they do to animals and try to chase us away."

He said he had been attacked many times before and six of the incidents had ended up in court proceedings.

He said the hunting fraternity saw the video camera as their main enemy. "They want to prevent us filming, using any means they can," he added.

Detective Constable Rob Parish, the officer in charge of the case, said: "We sincerely hope that it sends a clear message that such an act will not be tolerated by the police, and indeed this has been endorsed by the court's decision today."

Marles was allowed bail by Judge Jeremy Griggs at Exeter Crown Court while a pre-sentence report is prepared.

He will be sentenced on October 23. The judge ordered that in the meantime he should not attend any hunting event.