A man who was part of a hunt that led to a live fox being thrown to a pack of hounds has been sentenced. 

Thomas Ledbury, 38, of Pine Close Corsham, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting another in causing unnecessary suffering to a fox during the Christmas Eve event. 

At Swindon Magistrates' Court on March 18, he was sentenced to a 12-month community order with a requirement to undertake 240 hours of unpaid work.

Video footage captured of the incident shared by SWNS, shows Ledbury 'supervising' as another man digs a fox out of its earth before throwing him to a pack of hounds.

He, and others, were dressed in hunt jackets and he had a young child in tow during the incident near Melksham on December 24, 2020.

Ledbury was working for the Avon Vale Hunt as a terrier man at the time, a hunt that has since been disbanded after it was removed from the sport's governing body.

Analysing footage from this incident, Dr Stattersfield said, in a witness statement: “I am in no doubt that the fox was alive when it was pulled out of the hole.”

The footage shows the dogs biting the fox’s right hind upper leg and upper neck as it lands in the pack. 

Dr Stattersfield believed the fox would have experienced great fear as it was dug out of the hole and thrown to the baying hounds, and said the animal would have also suffered the extreme pain of being ripped apart by the teeth of multiple hounds, before losing consciousness and dying.

Two other men were previously convicted for their involvement in the incident.

Oliver Thompson was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a fox following trial and sentenced to a 20-week suspended prison sentence.

Then-Avon Vale Hunt master Stuart Radbourne received a suspended 18-week custodial sentence.

Chief Inspector Will Mitchell, from the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit which led the investigation, named Operation Aurora, said: “As part of a larger investigation the video footage was identified from a seized mobile phone.

“This shocking hunt video shows the lack of compassion and empathy for this fox who is thrown to a pack of baying hounds to be ripped apart.

"It’s really worrying to think anyone may find treating an animal this way fun.”