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Gyrocopter pilot feared fox hunter

Sent: Sunday, March 14, 2010 9:49 PM
Subject: [Times] Gyrocopter pilot feared fox hunter Trevor Morse 'intent on harming him'

http://www.timesonl ine.co.uk/ tol/news/ uk/crime/ article7056745. ece

From Times Online
March 10, 2010

Gyrocopter pilot feared fox hunter Trevor Morse 'intent on harming him'

A pilot helping animal rights activists told a jury he was “extremely frightened” when a fox hunt supporter hemmed in his gyrocopter just minutes before his head was cleaved from top to bottom by its rotors.

Bryan Griffiths said he feared that Trevor Morse was intent on harming him after being spotted flying over the Warwickshire Hunt to see if it was illegally chasing foxes.

After a tense stand-off on a remote disused airfield, Mr Griffiths drove the microlight forward but Mr Morse, 48, refused to move and was killed instantly when hit by the 200mph rear propeller.

Giving evidence at Birmingham Crown Court, Mr Griffiths, 55, said he was aware that some hunt supporters were “absolutely livid” that he and an animal rights activist were monitoring the hunt and both been warned that people wanted to “shoot down” the aircraft.

As Mr Morse’s partner, Caroline, listened from the public gallery, Mr Griffiths, who runs a heating engineering company, said he had been worried that he would be targeted by hunt supporters after discovering photographs of his gyrocopter and where it was kept posted on pro-hunt websites.

“It certainly made me realise that if ever I was in a position that they had me or my aircraft things were not going to be good,” he said.

He added that John Curtin, whom he flew to film hunts, had claimed he had been attacked at his Coventry home by three men with baseball bats.

Mr Griffiths said he was “too chicken” to observe hunts from the ground after hearing how some people, even female pensioners, had been attacked by hunt supporters.

On March 9 last year, the last day of the hunting season, Mr Griffiths said he believed he was shot at four times as he flew 1,000ft above the huntsmen with their horses and hounds.

“I saw a puff light grey smoke coming up from the ground. My first thought was that it was a shotgun,” he said. “It made me feel nervous.”

When Mr Griffiths flew to Long Marston airfield, near Stratford-Upon- Avon, to refuel he was quickly met by Mr Morse and his fellow hunt supporter, Julie Sargeant.

“My first reaction was that he has found me. He knows where I am and now
he’s telephoning for other people,” Mr Griffiths continued. "He was walking up and down on his mobile phone. He was a big man. I felt very frightened.”

Mr Griffiths said he asked two model airplane enthusiasts at the airfield to “stick around” because he feared Mr Morse, who was 6ft 2ins tall, was intent on “harm”.

“I thought he was bringing other people to the airfield. I felt this man was bringing other people to the airfield. I was extremely fearful. My anxiety at that point was through the roof.

“My primary concern was to get myself and the aircraft out of there as quickly as possible.”

Jurors have been shown a “brutal” 90 second video of Mr Morse’s final moments before he was struck by the 200mph rear propellers.

Mr Griffiths, from Bedworth, Warwickshire, denies manslaughter. The trial continues.

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