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Otis Ferry to pay thousands in compensation after attack on Heythrop Hunt monitors

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 22, 2014

By Tristan Cork

A judge heavily criticised Otis Ferry, who is the joint master of a hunt in Shropshire,  for his conduct during the case

A judge heavily criticised Otis Ferry, who is the joint master of a hunt in Shropshire, for his conduct during the case

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The hunt campaigner son of rock star Bryan Ferry has had to pay thousands in compensation to two hunt monitors he and a fellow huntsman attacked seven years ago.

Otis Ferry, who was among pro-hunt campaigners who stormed Parliament 11 years ago, had already pleaded guilty of a public order offence in relation to the attack on two women who were monitoring the Heythrop Hunt in Gloucestershire in 2007.

The monitors, from local anti-hunt campaign group Protect Our Wild Animals, took Ferry and fellow hunt supporter John Deutsch to court claiming damages for the trauma of the attack, which happened at Lower Swell, in the Cotswolds, in November 2007.

A judge heavily criticised Ferry, who is the joint master of a hunt in Shropshire, and Deutsch, for their conduct during the case, which has dragged on for four years since the criminal case was over.

Ferry agreed to an out-of-court settlement late in the afternoon on the day before the court hearing in Brentford County Court, while Deutsch continued to fight the case.

The judge, HHJ Powles QC, described the attack on Helen Ghalmi and Susan Grima as "a frightening ordeal", and said he was increasing the amount of damages the pair would have to pay the women to reflect the "degree of insult" involved in the initial assault, and the "persistent denials" in the years since.

Both had pleaded guilty to affray, although they denied earlier charges of assault and robbery, which were later dropped. The two women pursued a civil claim against the men, saying they felt the initial criminal sentences against them – a £350 fine each – were not adequate to "reflect the gravity of the offences and the terror and trauma they had suffered".

The judge said he was awarding damages to both women for their psychological injuries, and both men had been jointly liable for attacking the women as they sat in their car. Ferry and Deutsch were ordered to pay more than £32,000 in damages and costs between them. Judge Powles said he found Deutsch's evidence "wholly incredible".

"This was an angry attack by a man who trapped them and made them fear for their safety," he said, adding that he noted his "indifference and lack of concern", and concluded he had "deliberately lied to the court".

The court heard the two women were in car in Lower Swell, following the Heythrop Hunt. Their car was overtaken by a vehicle driven by Deutsch, who got out, smashed the passenger side window and shouted abuse at them.

Otis Ferry, a guest rider with the Heythrop that day, joined in the attack. Mrs Ghalmi claimed he tried to pull her out of the car, snatched her video camera and her car keys. Mrs Ghalmi said she was relieved the case was finally over. "It was a nasty cowardly act by these two men and they should be ashamed of themselves. I just hope it sends out a clear message to all hunts that we won't tolerate this kind of aggression towards monitors anymore," she said.

Mrs Grima added: "I was left with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and this got to the point where it prevented me from wanting to leave my home. What these men did was vicious and yet even after pleading guilty they chose to prolong the suffering by dragging this case on for so long. Thankfully the judge saw right through the lies," she added.

A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: "This is a civil matter between the individuals. The criminal case was concluded many years ago. That was an unnecessary incident and the two individuals pleaded guilty."

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  • Ted_F  |  March 22 2014, 10:37AM

    They sound like lovely lads....

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