Animal rights protesters who tried to interrupt Scottish Grand National fined

The case was heard at Ayr Sheriff Court (John Linton/PA)
The case was heard at Ayr Sheriff Court (John Linton/PA)

Two animal rights campaigners who tried to stop the Scottish Grand National have each been fined £200.

Activists interrupted the Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse, South Ayrshire, to “prevent horses from coming to harm” on April 22, Ayr Sheriff Court heard on Monday.

Sarah Foy, 23, and Osian Dixon, 26, were convicted of breach of the peace and fined £200 each with an additional £10 victim surcharge.

Dixon, of Manchester, was also convicted of trespass.

Coral Scottish Grand National – Ayr Racecourse – Saturday 22nd April
Kitty’s Light, ridden by Jack Tudor, triumphed in the Scottish Grand National (Jane Barlow/PA)

Foy, of Alfreton, Derbyshire, was acquitted of trespass due to lack of evidence.

The activists, who are both unemployed, were told to repay at £10 a month.

A judge said they “enjoyed public sympathy” but needed to use lawful methods in future.

She used sentencing powers to “mark the event” and admonished Dixon over the trespass charge at Ayr Sheriff Court.

The breach of the peace charge said the pair entered the track at Ayr Racecourse when a race meeting was in progress, equipped with glue and piping designed to enable people to secure themselves to jumps, fences or railings.

Reference to “overcome security” was removed from the charge.

They were among 24 people from the Animal Rising group charged by police after disruption on the day of the race in April.

Dixon told the court he “walked through a gap in the fence” in a Tesco car park, and “there was nothing to indicate we couldn’t.”

He said: “I was waiting for an opportunity to enter the racetrack in order to disrupt it and prevent horses from coming to harm.

“About five minutes before, I walked down to the car park through a gap in the opening of the fence, and then I jumped over the fence bordering the racetrack and ran onto it.

“I was tackled by security, carried to the cycle track by police and arrested.

“We made sure we had enough time to get onto the race track before the race began, so as to limit the risk to horses, riders and ourselves.

“Forty-six horses have died on Ayr Racetrack since 2007.

“I wanted to get on the track to stop the race from happening to save these horses, and to raise awareness of the public and anyone who might read the news about the exploitation inherent to this industry.”

He said he did not believe writing letters to the racecourse would achieve anything and insisted the statistics regarding deaths were correct.

Defending, Bethan Jones said: “Ms Foy is very concerned with animal rights. Her motivations were that they felt it was important to protest.”

Sentencing the pair, Sheriff Shirley Foran said: “Mr Dixon and Ms Foy are both first offenders.

“I’m of the view that simply marking these events will be sufficient.

“I accept entirely that your beliefs are genuinely held and suspect you probably enjoy public sympathy, but the bottom line is you need to adopt lawful methods. On this occasion, you did not.

“The disruption caused personally was minimum. I know you offered no trouble to police.”

Rose Paterson, 34, from London, had been due to be sentenced on Monday after she and Joshua Parkinson, 27, from Leeds, last week admitted the breach of the peace charge.

However, sentence on Paterson was deferred until October 16 while Parkinson is due to be sentenced later this month.

The Scottish Grand National was not delayed and the 18-horse race, which started at 3.38pm, was won by Kitty’s Light.