The Countryside Alliance has criticised the Victims’ Right to Review process and has accused the CPS of bowing to “mob rule” after Court throws out case due to flimsy evidence. The Times and the Daily Telegraph both published stories looking into the case.
Last week (7 February), Cheltenham Magistrates Court found Mark Melladay not guilty of assault and made a defendant’s costs order in his favour. The complainant, Ms Elaine Barnett, alleged that Mr Melladay had assaulted her by deliberately riding his horse into her on 13 February 2016.
The magistrates heard evidence from both Ms Barnett and another witness, Emma Phipps (who has been taking video footage) on the day of the alleged incident. The Magistrates viewed two pieces of film footage-one from each of the prosecution witnesses. They found that there was no evidence of contact between the complainant and Mr Melladay’s horse. They also went on to say that they had taken into account Mr Melladay’s good character and that they found him a credible witness. The evidence provided by Ms Barnett was described as being, “inconsistent”.
Concerns are now being raised how the case ever made its way to court. Initially the decision was made by Gloucestershire Constabulary on the basis of an interview and investigation not to prosecute Mr Melladay but after the Victims’ Right to Review was triggered and significant pressure was exerted by anti-hunt saboteurs the CPS decided to prosecute.
Two hunt saboteur campaign groups, Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs and OUT-PACED, have claimed credit for the CPS decision to review the case, despite the evidence to prosecute being extremely flimsy.
Tweeting about the decision, Three Counties Hunt Sabs stated: “Initially the police decided to take no further action against him but, with much help from OUT-PACED we secured a review.”
Mr Melladay’s case shares many similarities with the Mark Doggrell case that was dismissed by Taunton Crown Court, September 2016. Mr Doggrell was again accused of assault, the complainants case was investigated and dismissed but then taken forward after the Victims’ Right to Review was triggered and a campaign was established by hunt saboteurs: Why was huntsman ever put on trial? Rider cleared of hitting saboteur on purpose after CPS ignores its own expert witness.
Commenting on the case, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, Tim Bonner said: “It is very worrying that there appear to be an increasing number of cases where charging decisions are made on the basis of who can shout the loudest, not the quality of the evidence provided by the complainant.
“This is a further example of the CPS bending to mob rule and it sets another dangerous precedent for the Victims’ Right to Review process.”
“Unfortunately, in this instance, like with the Taunton case, a great deal of anxiety has been caused to an innocent man and family at significant cost to the tax payer. This could, and should have been avoided.”