Masked supporter of Nottinghamshire hunt stabs tyres of saboteurs

Hunt supporter John Partridge, aged 21, leaving Nottingham Crown Court. He is pictured using a vape.
Hunt supporter John Partridge, aged 21, leaving Nottingham Crown Court -Credit:Reach Plc

A young hunt supporter armed himself with a knife, masked himself with a balaclava and slashed the tyres of a group of saboteurs who had come to his village to make sure what was happening was not illegal. Nottingham Crown Court heard how John Partridge produced the blade and used it to damage two tyres before leaving the scene, only to be followed and have his mask removed.

The 21-year-old’s actions left one of the protesters “scared he was going to be beaten up” by the defendants and his friends. Now he has two years to stay out of trouble or risk the real prospect of being sent to jail for the first time in his life.

Handing him a two-year community order, Judge Steve Coupland said: “People who want to participate in and support hunts, provided they are being lawful, can do so. People who want to demonstrate against hunts can also do so provided they are being lawful.

Get the latest news straight to your phone by joining us on WhatsApp

“You are here because you caused damage to a saboteur’s vehicle when there was no reason for you to do so. It may be that you were led into this by others but you put on a balaclava, gloves and had a knife in a public place. No doubt those people were frightened when they saw you with a knife.”

Abigail Hill, prosecuting, said the Sheffield Hunt Saboteurs group travelled over to north Nottinghamshire to monitor the Grove and Rufford Hunt in Laxton on January 7, 2023.

She said they parked one of their vehicles close to the Dovecote pub, in Langold, Worksop, and saw three males, one of them the defendant. The prosecutor said the group then went to look for the hunt and then returned to the same location where they saw the hunt supporters again.

Mrs Hill said: “They ran towards them with their face masked by balaclavas and the driver drove away and pulled over in a side road. He then heard a loud rush of air and realised one of his tyres had been slashed and noticed three males next to the vehicle.

“One of them was this defendant, who was wearing a balaclava and carrying a knife which he had used to push into two of the tyres. One of the saboteurs then followed him and was able to remove his balaclava so he could capture his face, from which he was later positively identified.”

Partridge, of Knott End, Langold, Worksop, pleaded guilty to criminal damage and possession of a knife and has no previous convictions. It was not said in court if any convictions were brought against the other masked men in the defendant’s group.

Benn Robinson, mitigating, said his client is claiming benefits but has found employment depending on the outcome of this court case. He said: “It was not planned. The blade was in the boot of his vehicle and there have been a number of occasions since where tensions have flared between the hunt and the saboteurs and not once has he become involved.”

As part of the community order, the judge ordered the defendant to attend 20 rehabilitation sessions and handed him an electronically monitored curfew confining him to his home address each evening between 9pm and 6am for eight weeks. The judge also ordered Partridge to pay £390 compensation for the damage he caused.

Following sentencing, the Sheffield Hunt Saboteurs issued a statement to Nottinghamshire Live. In it, they said: "We’re glad that a supporter of The Grove and Rufford Hunt has finally been held to account for the violence that this hunt inflicts on anyone that opposes them.

"We have been repeatedly attacked by hunt supporters. We will continue to campaign against [this kind of] hunting until it is properly consigned to the history books. Hunts pretend to be upstanding parts of the community but we see many people terrorised by them and their associates."