Two men sentenced under new hare coursing legislation
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Two men have been ordered to pay more than £12,000 after appearing in court charged with hare coursing offences under new laws.
Darren Lee, 26, and Ronnie Doherty, 21, were the first people to be convicted in Lincolnshire under new and tougher legislation introduced in August last year.
The pair were ordered to pay an equal share of £11,144 kennelling and veterinary costs for four sighthounds which officers seized from them on 25 August, when they appeared at Boston Magistrates Court on 7 March.
The men were initially arrested in the Holbeach area after we received several reports of hare coursing in Gedney and West Pinchbeck on 25 August, 2022. They were released on police bail and later charged.
Lee, of Top Road, Barnacle, and Doherty, of Newton Road, Rushden, Northamptonshire, were also ordered to permanently forfeit the dogs and disqualified them from owning or keeping dogs for five years, suspended until March 31 to enable them to rehome their pets.
They both pleaded guilty to two charges of trespass with intent to pursue hares with dogs. This is new legislation that came into force on 1 August last year, which makes it an offence to go equipped for, search for, or pursue hares with dogs, and an offence to trespass with intent to search for or pursue hares with dogs.
The new law also allows courts to order a reimbursement of the costs of kennelling which is paid for by the police.
Chief Inspector Steve Williamson, force lead for rural crime, said: “This is the first sentence we have had in the county under the new legislation and the result will be welcomed by all. Our Rural Crime Action Team, which is committed to bringing rural crime offenders to justice, will continue to patrol rural areas and our officers will continue to attend reports of hare coursing.
“We’d like to say thank you to the members of the community for reporting this incident to us, your assistance is vital to our investigations.
“We hope this sends a strong message that we will take robust action to prevent and disrupt those involved in rural crime, which is often linked to other forms of criminality.”
We continue to work with partner agencies including the CLA and NFU to disrupt and deter hare coursers.
NFU county adviser for south Lincolnshire, Johanna Musson, said: “This is tremendous news and a landmark conviction. On behalf of farmers, some of whom have been terrorised by hare coursing, we offer a huge thank you to Lincolnshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their work on this case.
“This has been the culmination of extensive local and national lobbying from the NFU, working with the police and the PCC, for harsher sentences and increased police powers to tackle this barbaric activity that has plagued the Lincolnshire countryside for too long.
“We now have a genuine deterrent to hare coursers – if you come here, you’ll have your dogs, cars and equipment seized and receive a hefty fine.”
Lee and Doherty were also both fined £416 for each of two offences and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £166 and prosecution costs of £85.
An order for the forfeiture and destruction of a thermal scope used to detect body heat of hares was also made.
Our Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) has been put in place to patrol and target rural crime including hare coursing, wildlife crime, arson, burglary and theft. They also offer crime prevention advice.
As part of our force priorities, we continue with Operation Galileo to tackle rural crime. Operation Galileo is supported by a total of 32 forces nationally and works with partner agencies to deter and disrupt criminality such as hare coursing.
We continue to investigate all reports of rural crime.
However, we want to warn members of the public not to approach anyone you suspect of hare coursing, and please do not put yourself at risk.
If you see any live incidents of hare coursing taking place, please call us on 999, and note any vehicle descriptions or number plates, if you can.
If you have any other information to help us tackle hare coursing in our county, please call us on 101