How Tom Worby, a hunt sab, was killed

On Saturday 3rd April 1993, about 40 hunt saboteurs were present at the closing meet of the Cambridgeshire Foxhounds at Low Farm near Gravesley in Cambridgeshire. With the group of saboteurs was Tom Worby, a 15 year old from Milton Keynes, on his first day out sabbing.

His girlfriend had seen the hunt sab information stall in the city centre some days before and expressed an interest to join us. She then came with her boyfriend for their first day out sabbing.

When we saw the hunt, they had just started drawing in a wood neighbouring Low Farm. We all went into the fields outside the wood and called the hounds. Some came out, followed by an irrate Joint Master, Geoffrey Fox. After shouting some abuse at sabs, Mr Fox went back into the wood. Sabs stayed put and kept calling with similar success.

So, the whole hunting field came out, including huntsman and the hounds, and just gathered in the fields adjacent to the sabs. Some lively discussions went on between hunters and sabs and it soon became pretty obvious that the hunters had just called police and were waiting for their arrival.

After a while, one policeman arrived. He went into the fields and spoke for a long time with the hunters. Then he came over to the sabs and announced that he felt we were trespassing and should be leaving. Sabs told him that this was not his business, and that they were just sitting around in the sun and not really breaking any laws. The policeman then went back to the hunters, and after some more back and forth, and when it had become clear that the police was not able to remove sabs and not willing to put more resources into this operation, the hunt suddenly left back to Low Farm.

Sabs followed in a distance. We were not aware then what the hunters were actually planning to do. However, later in court the huntsmaster said he had decided to call it a day and ordered the huntsman Anthony Ball to pack up. Mr Ball was a very irrate man, easily blowing his lid and getting very aggressive. Just a few weeks earlier he had come off his horse and attacked sabs on foot, supported by other hunt thugs.

One sab was left unconscious after this attack, as he had been knocked on the head by the female hunter who owns Low Farm. There were also a number of occasions when Mr Ball had tried to ram or threatened to ram or actually rammed sab vehicles with his hound van. We have counted 27 incidents for which we have video or photographic evidence of Mr Ball using violence against sabs in the last years.

In any case, on this particular day, sabs followed Mr Ball and the hounds and the other hunters back to Low Farm. There we observed Mr Ball loading up the hounds and horses into the hound van. While all other hunters were still hanging around and drinking and chatting, Mr Ball went into the hound van together with his son Christopher Ball, the main terrierman of the hunt, and the kennel groom. Then he drove the track back towards the road.

When the sabs saw this happening, they also went up this track back towards the road. They were at the start about 500 yards in front of the hound van. We were in two minds about it all, as we did not know whether the hunters were really calling it a day, or whether they were just trying to move somewhere else to resume hunting. In any case, on the way back to the road on foot,sabs were split up. There was a main bulk of sabs furthest behind, then there was a smaller group of sabs, and then two sabs furthest up the track almost back at the road. I was one of those two.

When the hound van reached the first main group of sabs, the sabs did not just leave the track as it was felt it was a good idea to delay the hunters in case they wanted to resume hunting somewhere else. When all sabs would be back at the road it would be much easier to follow. So, some sabs even sat down on the track trying to block the vehicle.

However, Mr Ball’s hound van nudged its way through the group of sabs, always with a steady slow pace. People who were sitting down just removed themselves in the last second, as Mr Ball just would not stop. There was no violence or threat of such from the sabs at all. It was just a matter of delaying the van.

After a while the van had managed to pass this group of sabs and gathered speed very fast. It was soon approaching the next group of sabs. The track narrowed in this place, with a steep ditch to the right and a little one foot high verge and a dense hedgerow to the left. Mr Ball sped up more and more and drove straight into this group of sabs who didn’t even try to delay him at this stage.

When sabs realized that Mr Ball was not to slow down and was actually driving straight at them, they jumped aside down into the ditch on the right. Only Tom Worby didn’t manage to do that anymore, as he was too far on the left. He stepped aside into the only direction he could step, which was between hedgerow and van. There was basically no space whatsoever, as the van was so wide.

Tom Worby was caught on to the left wing mirror, and was dragged with the vehicle for a good 50 yards. He was screaming at the top of his voice, banging against the side of the van, against the door. He then lost his grip and slipped down, bounced back against the hedge and fell forward again underneath the left back wheel. The van went straight over his head. One could see the van lift up a bit when it went over his head.

The hound van did not stop. It gathered even more speed and passed the two sabs up the road who were just so shocked about what had happened that they couldn’t move. And then the hound van went straight back to the kennels, where soon litterally hundreds of police arrived to protect Mr Ball.

Sabs ran over to Tom Worby and tried to comfort him. He was bleeding out of his ears and nose, but was still conscious. Sabs screamed for help. Some hunters on foot nearby laughed and announced the whole thing as a victory for them, and were actually threatening sabs who expressed the urgency to get an ambulance.

Eventually, the one policeman present was informed and he called an ambulance. Before the ambulance arrived, Tom died in the arms of his girlfriend.


11 Responses

  1. Firstly Id like to say that I am sick of people portraying Tom as some sort of hunt sabatours hero…he wasnt he was a kid who was bored and went along to the sab for something to do, Secondly I wish you people would get your facts right Toms girlfriend didnt see a stall in the city centre she went to the hunt with a friend who was involved in sabbing, like Tom for something to do. Two kids bored, looking for excitement and hanging out with mates was all it was. How do I know all this is true…….Because I was Toms girlfriend and he died in my arms because of a accident nothing more and nothing less.

    • That is such an offensive lie!!
      I truly hope you get what you deserve, for defending hunters and smearing a good mans name and MINE!!

  2. This bit of history is not about creating a hero or not creating a hero. This bit of history is about social activism–nonviolent, peaceful, protected-by-constitution activism–versus those who are disposed to bloodshed, violent, and intent on continuing their violence, unconcerned about the loss of yet another life–even though that life be human. It is also about a young man, bored or not, hero or not, who will never reach sixteen.

  3. So anyone who goes out trying to stop cruelty to aninmls are bored eh? So much for your lack of compassion! I go out alone when I have to monitor the local hunt, not because I’m bored, but because I’m sick of evil hunt scum getting their jollies off being cruel to defenceless animals.
    God bless you TOM, you were a hero!

  4. Whilst Tom’s death should never have occurred, and I am truely sorry, I find it ironic that you, Judi, complain about all “sabs” being tarnished with the same brush and branded as bored yet go on to say about “evil hunt scum”. I presume by this you mean anyone who doesn’t feel the same way as you about hunting? Obviously, thats not tarnishing all of these people with the same brush because you have met them? No?

    R.I.P Tom

  5. Tom’s girlfriend…years have passed and it seems you have understood nothing. Alex…just shut up.evil hunt scum is the perfect term here.

  6. i’ll remember you tom…………….and we’ll fight on in your name and the names of all our fallen comrades across the entire revolutionary spectrum. for all life, for all freedom.

  7. Its typical that hunt scum can get away with murder but if one of their lot gets killed bye a hunt sab and he is taken to court, who’s side are the law on.

  8. Another thing why have’nt Toms parents done something about what happened, if it was my son I would’nt rest until the bastard who killed him was dead as well and I would’nt care about what the law did afterwards, if you love someone that is all that matters and revenge is sweat.

  9. Just found this….I was one of the three people who held Tom’s head as he lost conciousness & then died. I also had to comfort his hysterical girlfriend & virtually fight riders with the hunt to get help. It was no ‘accident’, a young man died at the hands of a moron driving a hound van who knew exactly what would happen if he aimed the van at human beings. He didn’t care. Neither did the police, or the coroner at the inquest. Ball got away with murder, pure & simple. The coroner questioned me at the inquest for 20 minutes & was more interested in creating th picture of me as an animal rights terroist than pursuing the truth.
    I think about Tom often & how we had to face laughing hunt supporters at the end of the track on which he died.
    I think the same thing would happen today if he died, as we always faced the weight of the establishment & judicial system against us. Nothing has changed.

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