A senior huntsman was caught on camera preparing to feed live fox cubs to hounds, a court has heard.

Paul Oliver was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty on Monday after a judge rejected his claim that he had simply been relocating the foxes into the wild.

The 40-year-old was previously master of hounds with the South Herefordshire Hunt and a senior member of Cornwall’s Western Hunt.

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Hidden motion-sensor cameras were planted at the South Herefordshire kennels by the Hunt Investigation Team, an animal rights group.

They did so after receiving information that animal welfare legislation had been breached at the site.

Mr Oliver was recorded in May 2016 handling foxes at the kennels and putting the bodies of two cubs in a wheelie bin, the court was told.

“The unnecessary suffering involved the killing of fox cubs, effectively feeding the animals... throwing the fox cubs into the kennels of the fox hounds, thereby killing them,” Simon Davis, the prosecutor, told Birmingham Magistrate’s Court.

Mr Oliver, from Lincolnshire, can be seen in the footage holding a stick with a noose attached.

The instrument is known in hunting circles as a grasper.

Hannah Rose, Mr Oliver’s partner, was also convicted on three counts of causing unnecessary suffering.

Ms Rose, 30, of Sutton Crosses, worked for the hunt as a kennel maid.

Paul Oliver was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty (PA)

Oliver and Rose were employed by the South Herefordshire Hunt, based at Wormelow, as master of hounds, and a kennel maid or groom,” Mr Davis said.

Nathan Parry, a terrierman who did not work for the hunt, was cleared of causing suffering to four foxes.

The 40-year-old is from the Brynarw estate near Abergavenny.

Mr Parry took the foxes to the kennels but Joanna Dickens, the district judge overseeing the seven day trial, accepted that he believed the animals would be relocated in the wild.

Julie Elmore, aged 55 and also from the Brynarw estate, admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering before the trial.

Paul Reece, 48, from Itton in south Wales, also admitted to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering.

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Sentencing in the case is expected to take place later on Monday afternoon.

Additional reporting by agencies