An animal rights group has called for tougher penalties after a court punished two men found guilty of fox hunting with dogs with £150 fines.
On October 23 last year, Nicholas Harris, 44, of Violet Hill Road, Stowmarket, and Anthony Laflin, 50, of Barretts Lane, Needham Market, went to Green Meadows, in Stowmarket, with dogs, a high-powered lamp, a spade and a knife.
Harris claimed to have been walking his five dogs at about 3.45pm when he lost one of them, a seven-year-old Jack Russell. He said he carried out a three-hour search before returning home and calling his friend Laflin for help.
At about 7.15pm police noticed the men’s cars parked at the entrance of Green Meadows. Pc Steve Duncan said: “We checked the Clio. What alerted us to this vehicle was the dead bird which had been plucked and there was fresh blood in the driver’s side footwell.
“There was a dog cage in the back of the car and garden shears with fresh blood on the side.”
Police searched the meadow but could not find Harris or Laflin despite shouting out. They later stopped the men and found a dead fox in Harris’s car.
Harris claimed he found the fox together with his missing dog stuck down a rabbit hole. The men denied the charge but Laflin pleaded guilty to possession of the lock knife.
Chair of Magistrates Jane Heard said it was a “serious and unpleasant” crime but took into account that both men are unemployed.
A spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals branded the sentence as “measly” and labelled the crime as “unforgivable”.
The maximum fine the magistrates could have imposed was £5,000. Harris and Laflin were also ordered to pay £300 costs and a £20 victim surcharge each.
Laflin was fined a further £150 for possession of the knife.