25th April 2017
A HARE-COURSING gang member has been hit with a £1,200 fine after expressing the view Scottish courts were soft on the issue.
Stuart Brunt travelled from his home in Derby to an estate in the Scottish Borders and was caught in the act by police while hunting seven hares with four lurcher dogs.
The 27-year-old was apprehended along with two other men and a juvenile at Tollishill Estate, owned by the Duke of Northumberland, near Oxton in the Lammermuir Hills on January 29.
Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser said: "Hare-coursing is not only against the law but it is used as a form of entertainment and a gambling operation."
He said Brunt had travelled five hours to visit the remote estate which is three miles up a single track road off the A697 road.
Selkirk Sheriff Court was told a gamekeeper had spotted a vehicle parked in darkness at 7am and the police were called.
One of the dogs had fresh blood on its paws and the carcasses of seven hares were found lying in the heather which had fresh injuries.
Defence lawyer Ross Dow said Brunt had expressed the view that Scottish courts were relatively soft on the issue of hare coursing which may have explained why he had travelled such a long distance.
He said: "There was no gambling involved but there is an element of enjoyment.
"He knows this has to stop."
Sheriff Kevin Drummond highlighted that Brunt of Wiltshire Road, Derby, had previous convictions for poaching and other wildlife offences.
He pointed out that 18 days after his last conviction, for which he was fined £900, he set out on an expedition from Derbyshire to the Scottish Borders to do exactly the same thing.
The sheriff told the forklift driver: "You have demonstrated a contempt for the law on this."
In addition to the fine, he was ordered to carry out 80 hours unpaid work and disqualified for 12 months from owning any dog.
The two other members of the gang have already appeared in court charged with the same offence.
Twenty seven year old Ryan Spence, of Guisborough, North Yorkshire, previously had sentence deferred until April 11 for background reports but never showed at Selkirk Sheriff Court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Anthony Webster, who is 36, of Holywell Row, Suffolk, was fined £600.
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