A MAN who stabbed a fox with a garden fork in Pattiswick will have to complete 200 hours of unpaid service after he admitted animal cruelty.

Paul O’Shea, 49, of Mount Bures, had previously admitted hunting a wild mammal with dogs and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

He was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, banned from keeping any dog for five years, and fined £233 in total costs when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday, August 1.

He had been captured on film in Great Monks Wood in December last year using a Patterdale terrier to flush a fox out of an artificial earth and catching it in a net placed over the entrance, before attacking it with a garden fork.

He was identified from the film footage and officers from Essex Police’s Rural Engagement Team launched an investigation.

PC Jed Raven of Essex Police’s Rural Engagement Team said: “This was a particularly nasty incident.

“The fox was attacked by the dog until O’Shea grabbed the fox by its tail to pull it out of the net. He then attacked the poor fox with a large garden fork, stabbing it several times, before kicking it.

“Sadly, we don’t know exactly what happened to the fox as the film did not capture this.

"What is certain is that the fox would have been caused a great deal of physical pain and discomfort, as well as mental terror.

“This is simply not acceptable.

“The film footage of the incident was extremely distressing. We were determined to ensure O’Shea did not get away with his cruel acts, so we immediately sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, which helped us to secure the charges against him.”

CPS district prosecutor Sally Robinson added: “This was an abhorrent example of animal cruelty and hunting committed by a terrierman in the East Essex Hunt.

“Mr O’Shea flushed a fox and then utilised a pitchfork to commit unnecessary suffering to it.

 “The Crown Prosecution Service take all cases of animal cruelty and hunting offences seriously and where the full code test is met, will take steps to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”