A WOMAN and her grandson have been left traumatised after a fox was torn to shreds by hunting hounds in their Worcestershire garden.

Elizabeth Cash was with her five-year-old grandson at her home in Upton Snodsbury when the hounds entered her garden.

"We were suddenly surrounded by a pack of very noisy and excited fox hounds tearing around our garden, trampling over flower beds, pushing through fencing and terrorising my grandson who was lost among the pack of hounds," she said.

The incident happened last Saturday when the pack was flushing out a fox, which the hunt later planned to kill using a bird of prey - a practice still legal in Britian.

But instead the hounds got hold of the fox and killed it, although the hunt has since said it was an accident.

"The hounds dragged it (the fox) out in our full view to be torn apart before our eyes," Mrs Cash said. "I felt physically sick and could do nothing apart from try to shield my small grandson from the horror he was witnessing. This to me is totally unacceptable."

Mrs Cash, who does not agree with hunting but says she respects other people's views, did not report the incident to the police but has written to the parish council.

She was later visited by the Master of the Hunt who apologised.

Joint master of the hunt for Croome and West Warwickshire Foxhounds, Robin Palmer, said: "Unfortunately the hounds found a fox and the huntsman tried to call them back but it resulted in this unfortunate incident. It was an accident."

Chairman of Upton Snodsbury Parish Council Terry Eagle said members would be discussing the incident at their next meeting in January.

Mike Foster, MP for Worcester, who initiated the fox hunting ban in a Private Members Bill in 1997, urged Mrs Cash to contact the police.

"What has happened is exactly what the whole process to stop it was about," he said. "It is to protect people from having to witness what she did. So if they have broken the law they can be procesecuted for it."

Penny Little, a spokesman for Protect our Wild Animals, called for the law to be tightened.

"Every time this happens it is said to be an accident," she said. "This is not acceptable and there needs to be a tightening of the law."

A police spokesman said officers would now investigate the matter by speaking to Mrs Cash.

he said: "Fox-hunting is illegal and we respond positively to reports that it is taking place, from whatever the source."

He added that anyone with information should contact 08457 444 888.