A man fined for poaching on an Oxfordshire farm told police: “I was just catching a rabbit.”
Police officers observed Colwin Price walking from a field owned by a farmer at Stallpitts Farm in Shrivenham at 11.30pm 1 December last year.
He was carrying a dead rabbit and was accompanied by a Lurcher-type dog. When officers challenged him he replied he was “just catching a rabbit”.
Mr Price, 44, of Greenway Road, Cardiff, south Wales, pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates’ Court to the offence of night time trespass with the intention of pursuing game contrary to the Game Act 1828.
He was fined £155 and had all of the items on him at the time of the offence seized by officers and then forfeited. This included lamping equipment and battery packs.
Speaking after sentencing, PC Lucy Fleming, from Thames Valley Police’s rural crime team, based in Didcot, said: “This is a good result as this type of offence is a priority for the area and is in the public interest to prosecute.”
Poaching is one of the priorities identified by the Thames Valley Rural Crime Partnership (TVRCP), which was formed in December 2011.
The TVRCP was formed with organisations and associations representative of our rural community, including the Country Business and Land Association (CLA) and the NFU.
Hare coursing continues to plague farms across the UK, especially on large arable farms in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and East Anglia.
Figures released by Lincolnshire Police on 1 February showed coursing has been on the rise in the county over the last six months.
Since 1 September 2015, there have been 161 men arrested or reported for summons so far this season under the force’s Operation Galileo, which aims to crack down on hare coursing and poaching.
Eighteen vehicles have been seized and 79 other men have been dealt with by other enforcement action, such as direction to leave, traffic offences.