A huntsman pursued foxes across Exmoor in "wilful disregard" of the Hunting Act, a court was told yesterday.
Tony Wright (52), appeared in court in a private prosecution brought by the League Against Cruel Sports.
Wright, of Exmoor Kennels, Simonsbath, Exmoor, pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing to a charge of hunting a fox on April 29 last year contrary to the Hunting Act 2004.
It is the first prosecution in England relating to a fox or stag hunt to be brought under the Act. Prosecuting for the League, Richard Furlong told district judge Paul Farmer, sitting at Barnstaple Magistrates' Devon: "This is not about whether the Act is right or wrong, or whether it is fair. It remains the law of England and Wales and he has broken that law."
Mr Furlong alleged Wright, an employee of Exmoor Foxhounds, hunted two foxes with hounds in circumstances which were in "clear breach" of the Act.
Save for the fact only two hounds were used, his activities appeared to be "traditional hunting", said Mr Furlong.
The court watched a video of the day's activities made by the League's education and sanctuaries officer Edmund Shepherd.
Wright had two defences available to him which had to be proved on the balance of probabilities - that what took place was lawful within terms of exemption within the Act, or that he reasonably believed he was engaged in exempt hunting. Mr Furlong said no reasonable steps were taken to have the foxes shot dead as soon as possible by a competent person, which was the basis of exempt hunting.
"Exempt hunting is not hunting at all - it is finding, flushing and shooting," said Mr Furlong.
Reasonable steps to ensure a fox was shot dead as soon as possible after being found or flushed required a "line or lines of guns," said Mr Furlong, adding "there was nothing of the sort."
He said the hounds were not being called off by horn or whip, nor were they under close control of Mr Wright to ensure they did not obstruct someone from shooting a fox.
While hunting the second fox, Mr Wright was encouraging the hounds in their pursuit with staccato horn calls traditionally used to "egg on" hounds, not call them off.
He said Wright's conduct on the day indicated "a cynical attempt to pay lip service to the legislation".
The trial continues.