Diana’s sister vouches for attacker

Image caption Darryl Cunnington said he was unable to move and feared he was paralysed after the attack

A man who assaulted two charity workers monitoring a hunt has been given a suspended sentence after Princess Diana’s eldest sister vouched for him.

George Grant, who works for the Belvoir Hunt in the East Midlands, assaulted the men with his son Thomas Grant and left one victim with a broken neck.

However, Lady Sarah McCorquodale told the judge that George Grant would lose his job and home if he were jailed.

Both men were given 16-month prison sentences, suspended for two years.

McCorquodale, who is joint master of the Belvoir Hunt, told Leicester Crown Court that George Grant is “very hardworking, good at his job” and she had “never seen him lose his temper like that”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lady Sarah McCorquodale said violent attacker George Grant was “good at his job”

The Grants had previously pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm against Darryl Cunnington and actual bodily harm against Roger Swain.

Four masked men also took part in the attack but these have never been identified, and the Grants refused to comment when they were interviewed by police.

The father and son, aged 57 and 25 and both of Briary Cottage, Belvoir, also pleaded guilty to theft of a video camera and damaging an SD card in the attack near Stathern, Leicestershire, in March 2016.

Image caption George Grant (left) and his son Thomas admitted causing grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm

The Belvoir Hunt describes itself as “one of the world’s most celebrated foxhunts”.

Members claim to have been trail hunting that day, which mimics fox hunting and involves laying a scent for a pack of hounds to follow.

The hunt monitors, who work for the League Against Cruel Sports, suspected they might be illegally hunting foxes with hounds. However, there was no suggestion in court that the hunt was breaking any laws.

Image caption Hunt monitor Roger Swain called the attack “a complete overreaction”

Neil Bannister, prosecuting, described how the Grants approached the hunt monitors on a quad bike after they had set up recording equipment.

George Grant said to his son: “Go and get the boys and come back.”

Thomas Grant rode off on the quad bike and returned with a pickup vehicle, and he and four masked men got out.

Mr Cunnington, a former police officer, said he was attacked and pushed down a 14ft drop by “at least two” of the masked men, while his colleague was attacked and pushed down a smaller drop by the Grants and the masked men.

Mr Swain, who managed to call emergency services, said they were “lucky not to have been killed”.

While George Grant did not physically attack Mr Cunnington himself, the court heard that it was a “joint venture” between him and the other men.

Image caption The Belvoir Hunt claims to have been trail hunting that day

Judge Jinder Singh Boora told the Grants: “Both of you flipped. Neither of you are by nature violent men.”

As well as the suspended sentences the men were ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and each pay Mr Cunnington £500 in compensation.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Cunnington expressed his frustration that the other four men have never been brought to justice.

“They clearly know those four people who were involved in breaking my neck but they have never revealed their identity,” he said.

Image caption Darryl Cunnington was in a neck collar for four months after the attack

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk.

Related Topics