Man fined for taking part in hare coursing event

A man travelled from Kent to take part in a hare coursing event in south Norfolk

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A man who travelled to Norfolk from Kent to take part in a hare coursing event assaulted a gamekeeper and smashed a windscreen after his exit from a farm in south Norfolk was blocked, a court heard.

Gary Eastwood, 55, pleaded guilty yesterday before Norwich magistrates to participating in a hare coursing event, assault and criminal damage to a Landrover Discovery.

Eastwood’s five lurcher dogs were seized after his arrest and since the incident in March, they have been kennelled by the RSPCA, at a cost of £3776, which Eastwood was ordered to pay.

Magistrates ordered that the dogs be forfeit and Eastwood was also fined £1500, plus a £100 victim surcharge, and must pay £150 compensation for the damage to the Landrover, and costs of £400.

The court heard that Eastwood, a scrap metal dealer from Malmaynes Hall Road, Upper Stoke, Rochester, travelled in a jeep with other men to Vaunces Farm in Pulham St Mary, near Diss, to take part in hare coursing, on Sunday, March 24.

Josephine Jones, prosecuting, said: “It was about 8am and extremely cold. The gamekeeper on the farm was doing vermin control.

“Four men with five dogs were chasing hares on farmland. They had no permission or right to be there. The gamekeeper called his employer, the farmer, and also the police.

“They were anxious to prevent the men from leaving until police arrived.

“They managed to block the jeep by using the Landrover and the gamekeeper’s vehicle, and took the keys from the jeep.

“Two of the men left the scene, and have not been apprehended. The defendant wanted the keys to the vehicle to leave. He had a catapult and used it to strike the gamekeeper with a stone ball on his forearm.

“He also used the catapult on the Land Rover, causing a crack to the windscreen.

“When the police arrived, Eastwood said he had come to walk their dogs. He gave his home address as Rochester, which is quite a distance to bring your dogs.

“Clearly, he had come to run dogs to put up wild hares. Hare coursing normally involves sums of money for betting. It’s been illegal since the hunting act.

“Damage could also have been caused to the crops. No dead hares were found. Five lurcher dogs were seized plus the grand cherokee jeep. One young man was cautioned by police.”

For Eastwood, Graeme Logan said he was invited by friends to run his dogs, and accepts that it was a hare coursing event, but no betting was involved.

Mr Logan said: “One of the men who stopped the defendant leaving the farm had a shotgun, and he feared for his safety. But he wishes to apologise and regrets what he did, which was over the top. He was not part of a large illegal event.”

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