A Gloucestershire anti-hunt campaigner has appeared before magistrates to admit making abusive phone calls to the Master of the Llandeilo Farmers’ Hunt following the online publication of photographs showing what appeared to be illegal fox-hunting.
Michael John Wheeldon, of Cains Cross, left messages on Hunt Master Colin Evans’ phone saying he planned to hunt him “with a vengeance” and rip his head off after seeing a photograph of two men – allegedly linked to the Llandeilo Farmers’ Hunt – teasing two dogs with a bloodied, live fox cub.
The photograph was purported to have been taken following a foot-hunt with terriers after a ridden hunt was cancelled due to bad weather.
However following publication, a spokesman for Llandeilo Farmers' Hunt said the two men held no official position in the organisation.
In one expletive-riddled message, 39-year-old Wheeldon said: “I hate you. I hate all of you. I tell you, I’m going to find you – that is a warning. I will hunt you with a vengeance. I will love killing you. I will love wringing your neck. I will rip your head off.”
In all, Wheeldon left seven messages on Mr Evans’ phone on February 4.
Wheeldon also made five calls – between February 7 and February 9 - to Mr Evans’ 71-year-old mother Enid, who works as secretary at the family business.
He told Mrs Evans he knew she was Mr Evans’ mother.
“He told her that her son was in trouble and needed an ambulance,” prosecutor Ellie Morgan told Llanelli magistrates.
He also called on the premise he was a businessman offering the firm work in the Gloucester area.
In a separate call, Wheeldon mentioned Mr Evans and told his mother: “You must be very proud of him.”
“Mrs Evans was aware of the threats her son had received,” said Ms Morgan. “She found the calls very distressing and upsetting.”
The court was told that between January 9 and February 3, Wheeldon had also made a series of calls to Rachel Evans, regional director of Countryside Alliance Wales. Ms Evans is not related to Wheeldon’s other victims.
“During the calls Wheeldon questioned Ms Evans about her job,” said Ms Morgan. “He was rude and insulting.”
Wheeldon also played – and sang along to – abusive songs down the phone to Ms Evans.
On his first call, Wheeldon forgot to withhold his number and Ms Evans was able to contact the police and her telephone provider.
An investigation showed all the calls to Ms Evans and Mr and Mrs Evans were made from Wheeldon’s phone.
In interview, Wheeldon told police he had been shown the image of the men holding the cub and dogs on the social networking website Facebook.
At the same time he was incorrectly told that one of the men in the photograph was Mr Evans and given his home and work telephone details.
“I was drunk and contacted the man,” Wheeldon told police.
“I did not want the man to believe that I was going to kill him. I just wanted to be a nuisance.
“I had been on Facebok and I was drunk and emotional and I rang him.”
Kate Williams, defending, told the court Wheeldon fully accepted his behaviour “had been unacceptable”.
“He and the three complainants have differing views in relation to hunting with animals,” she said.
“He had been upset by the picture that was posted on Facebook and he reacted.
“He has strongly-held beliefs but they have never brought him to court before and there is no risk of him repeating this behaviour.”
Wheeldon admitted three charges of sending offensive communications.
He was fined a total of £305 and ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £20 legal surcharge.
“The threats you made were totally unacceptable,” magistrates told him.