Three men have been fined for punching hunt saboteurs at a Boxing Day hunt in Wiltshire.
Clashes broke out outside the Red Lion pub, in Lacock, when the Avon Vale Hunt met on December 27 last year - a day later than is tradition because Boxing Day fell on a Sunday.
In the wake of the disorder, Wiltshire Police charged five men with public order offences.
Today (April 6) three of those men appeared at Salisbury Magistrates' Court.
They were Callum Lewis, 26 and of Westbury, William Renny, 30 and of Westbury, and Evan Lorne, 18 and of Melksham.
They all admitted an offence under Section 4 of the Public Order Act of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause unlawful violence.
Plant operator Lewis was fined £554 and told to pay a victim surcharge of £54 and costs of £85.
Lorne, who is an agricultural student, was fined £200 and ordered to pay a £34 victim surcharge and £85 costs.
Renny - who appeared via video link - was fined £538 and ordered to pay a £54 victim surcharge and costs.
'Tension in the air'
Tom Power, prosecuting, said: “All three defendants play a slightly different role in events.
“Mr Rennie threw a punch towards one of the hunt saboteurs, and Mr Lewis and Mr Lorne appear to throw multiple punches towards the saboteurs as general scuffles break out.
“The recording shows there is lots of tension in the air and the saboteurs are shouting and the defendants have been goaded by that.”
The defendants maintained the atmosphere became “confrontational” when around 50 hunt saboteurs dressed in black arrived.
Nicola Hutchinson, representing Renny, said: “There were youths riding ponies who were approached by the saboteurs, who were said to be trying to spook the ponies.
“They were waving banners in front of their face and saying to the youths they wished they had fallen off their horses and were injured.
“Mr Renny said with that there was an incident where one of the saboteurs approached one of the others there and slapped a phone out of his hand, and he fully concedes at that stage he did lose his cool, he did punch out at that man once – not causing any injury.
“As soon as he did that, he regretted his actions straight away. He tells me he is really embarrassed by the footage he has seen, and he understands clearly that is not acceptable behaviour.”
Rebecca Veasey, representing Lewis, said the hunt had been a “big part” of his life but he is no longer involved with it.
“An argument started between him and a saboteur who was spitting at the riders, and this saboteur put his hand on Mr Lewis’s throat and he lashed out in order to remove his hand from his neck, only to be put in a headlock from another,” she said.
“Only at a later stage did he make two ineffectual punches at another saboteur held up against a wall. He does regret his behaviour that day.”
Miss Veasey, who was also representing Lorne, said he got involved in the violence “out of concern” for his father, who had been pushed by a saboteur.
“Mr Lorne himself was grabbed by his collar at one stage, to whom he reacted against – admittedly somewhat disproportionately,” she said.
“It was an impulsive act, which he deeply regrets.”
Presiding justice Rachel Gowshall said Renny had approached his victim with “aggression” before punching him.
“We’ve heard there was provocation and we’ve heard there was a general melee, but you have contributed to that general melee by getting involved in violence,” she said.
“It would have been quite distressing for people there as bystanders watching the level of violence and mayhem.”
Two other men - Andrew Purbrick, 59, and Adrian Earl, 52 - are due to appear in court on April 13 having been charged with public order offences.
Wiltshire Police has come under fire for its handling of the event.
Officers present at the anti-hunt demonstration, set up by the Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs, have been accused of not intervening to prevent the violence from breaking out.
Some of the saboteurs have also claimed one of the officers is a member of the hunt.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has referred 10 complaints to Wiltshire Police’s professional standards department to be investigated further.
The force said previously: “We’ve undertaken a review of our policing approach regarding this incident and, upon the conclusion of these criminal proceedings we will publish a summary of this review.”