Hunt master fined after cat is killed by pack of hounds

A hunt master, whose pack of hounds mauled a cat and bit a man’s finger, has been handed fines totalling £500 today (Tuesday).

In addition to the fines, 30-year-old Jack Harris was ordered to pay £1,200 in costs and a £15 Offender’s Levy after District Judge Rosie Watters convicted him on two counts of being the keeper of a dog which attacked.

In a brief hearing conducted in the absence of Harris, the prosecution outlined to Lisburn Magistrates’ Court how Harris had been employed by Iveagh Hunt Club as a hunt master on 25 November 2020 but that the 30-40 hounds he was in charge of had been trespassing on other lands.

One of those properties was a garden of a house on the Dromara Road in Hillsborough, where the pack cornered a cat called Jessie and killed it before the carcass was lifted “by the hind legs” and taken away by an unknown person.

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A short time later, a man was in the garden of his home on the Edentrillick Road when a number of hounds jumped through a boundary river into his property, one of them biting his finger as it ran on.

Describing the injury as a “bad laceration,” the solicitor for Lisburn City and Castlereagh Council handed an album of images to DJ Watters and when she got to the photo of his hand, she exclaimed in shock “oh it’s horrible”.

The solicitor said while charges had been brought against Iveagh Hunt Club and two of its members, those charges were withdrawn earlier today. He added: “The club provided evidence regarding the process they used to engage and employ Mr Harris as the hunt master.

“He was the owner and [keeper] of the dogs on the day in question and so he is the man responsible,” said the lawyer.

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Iveagh hunt club, from Seapatrick Road in Banbridge, Mr Gareth Black, from the Shanrod Road also in Banbridge, and Mr Alexander Mills, from the Mullanary Road in Dungannon, had all been charged with the same offences but those charges were withdrawn.

DJ Watters heard that Harris, from Harkaway Cottage in Tettcott, had been written to and he had confirmed being notified of the hearing today but he had not attended court.

The council’s solicitor claimed that, in the face of the charges, “we say he fled to England” where he has set up a new hunt club but that in any event, he had been tracked down and served with papers.