Man faces prison for hare coursing


by Graham Fraser, Hamilton Advertiser

TWO Lanarkshire men found guilty of hare coursing have been warned they could face jail.

Robert Clements (44), of Moray Avenue, Blantyre, and co-accused David Scott (40), of Carluke, used three lurchers to hunt a juvenile hare on farmland near Stirling.

Sentence on the men, who both denied the charge, has been deferred until next month at Stirling Sheriff Court.

The court was told that police officers turned up at a Stirlingshire field on November 2 last year after a phone call from a local farmer.

When they approached the Lanarkshire men, the officers saw Clements try to dispose of a dead hare by throwing it down an embankment.

Clements and Scott claimed they were actually hunting rabbits and they said they drove to Stirling because there were no rabbits closer to home.

But Sheriff Andrew Cubie found both guilty of hunting the hare at Sink Farm, Cowie.

During the trial, police wildlife and environmental officer Malcolm O’May said he witnessed the two men with three dogs.

He said: “I got out of the car and saw one of the men toss what I suspected to be a hare down the railway embankment.

“I approached the men, explained why I was there and asked what they had thrown down the embankment.

“I went down to have a search and retrieved it.

“It was dead. My guess was it was just killed because it was still warm and the body was soft.”

In court, veterinary surgeon Dr Morag Kerr, who examined the dead hare, described the fatal injuries caused to it by the dog.

They included crushed bones, torn muscles and round puncture holes in its body.

Giving evidence, Clements, a warehouse worker for Sainsbury’s, denied he and Scott were looking for hares.

He said: “I have hunted rabbits all my life.

“I know that hare coursing is banned and that’s why I hunt rabbits.

“Under no circumstances was I intending to hunt hares. I know the laws.

“The dogs went a bit in front of us and we didn’t even see a hare until the dog retrieved it.

“I knew the implications and tried to dispose of it.”

Under cross-examination from fiscal Jim Graham, Clements added: “There are no rabbits in Blantyre.

“Anyone will tell you all the rabbits are towards Stirling and Perthshire.

“I’ve been on that land numerous times and have never seen a hare.”

Scott, who said he owned 14 sporting dogs, added: “I’m not in to hare coursing. I go for rabbits.

“But there are very few rabbits in Lanarkshire.”

Finding both guilty of hare coursing and deferring sentence until next month for reports, Sheriff Cubie said: “I’m not prepared to declare that Lanarkshire is devoid of rabbits.

“There was an unequivocal report of how the hare was taken down.

“There was acceptance from both accused that the dog retrieved the carcass and that the hare was thrown away when police arrived. I am satisfied that what was going on was hare coursing.”

In 2002, the Scottish Parliament banned fox hunting and hare coursing after months of national debate.

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