Two hunt saboteurs were given conditional discharges after magistrates decided on Friday that “harm was not planned” at a rumpus when a leading hunt held a pre-season exercise.

For two days the court at Llandudno heard claims and counter-claims about what went on at the Flint and Denbigh Hunt event last September. It happened on farmland owned by Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn at Cefn, near St Asaph, and it was alleged that saboteurs, some in masks or balaclavas, had cracked whips and used electronic wailing devices to try and confuse hounds.

An application for a three-year restraining order to prevent the two men attending Cefn or turning up at any Flint and Denbigh hunts was rejected, court chairman Emrys Williams saying this would not be proportionate and would impede their right to take part in legal protests.

Connor Heffey, 26, was cleared of two minor assault charges but found guilty of trespassing and using an electronic device to emit hound screams “to disorientate and agitate the pack, with intent to obstruct or disrupt a lawful activity.” He was given an 18 months conditional discharge.

Dafydd Hughes, 40, was placed on a conditional discharge for a year after being found guilty of assault by pushing Hunt Supporters Club member Max Wenger, 54, who was planning the event and laying a trail.

Both Heffey, of Beach Road West, Prestatyn, and Hughes, of Tanrallt Road, Gwespyr, Holywell, pleaded not guilty and maintained they were in their rights to be on the land because they suspected there was illegal hunting.

Defended by barrister Richard Edwards they said incidents in a wood had been because they believed hounds were being sent there to flush out foxes and their cubs, and that horses were on an adjoining road to trap them.

But Angharad Mullarkey, prosecuting, said there was no evidence that the event was unlawful. It was a training exercise and one trail had been laid, organized by members with years of experience who were quite aware of the foxhunting law. The hunt had tried to work with saboteurs, inviting them to witness what was going on at their events, “but they were not interested.” Instead saboteurs indulged in unruly, intimidating and abusive behaviour and this had been seen on video footage.

Mr Edwards said there had been “a great deal of shouting and vitriol” between people with views which were poles apart. The saboteurs genuinely believed that what had been going on was unlawful.

Finding Heffey guilty of the disruption offence the chairman explained : “We decided it was a lawful activity because of the lack of evidence that foxes were present at any time.”

Announcing the sentences the chairman said: "We don’t believe that harm was planned but you did act negligently.” The law had been broken but they had looked at “the triviality of the offences”.

Each of the defendants was ordered to pay £395 costs, which will be deducted from their benefits.