14th May 2021
A pair of hare coursers were caught hiding in a hedgerow by police officers wearing high-tech night vision goggles.
Officers were called to private land in Sharrington, near Melton Constable, at around 11.30pm on September 16, 2020, to reports of men with dogs.
Police arrived to discover a silver Citroen car with a dead hare inside.
Using night vision goggles, officers spotted two men with two Lurcher-type dogs hiding in the hedgerow.
Two men aged in their 30s, a man aged in his 20s and a teenage boy were later questioned about the incident at Aylsham Police Investigation Centre after voluntarily attending.
William Mitchell, 36, of Mangreen Lane in Keswick, near Norwich, Michael Travell, 35, of Beverley Road, Norwich, and George Harber, 23, of Shorthorn Road, Stratton Strawless, were subsequently reported for hunting a wild mammal with dogs contrary to section 1 and 6 of the 2004 Hunting Act and summonsed to appear at court.
Hare coursing is a bloodsport where dogs – usually greyhounds or other sighthounds – are used to chase, catch and kill hares.
They appeared before Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, May 12, and pleaded guilty to one count of hunting a wild mammal with dogs.
All three were each fined £500 and ordered to pay £145 costs, and a victim surcharge of £50.
The men were also given Criminal Behaviour Orders for three years. A confiscation order was made for three dogs which will now be rehomed.
The teenage boy was told no further action would be taken against him.
PC Chris Shelley, Norfolk Police’s Rural Crime officer, said: “Hare coursing has a terrible impact on our rural communities, it damages property, threatens people’s livelihoods and subjects people and families to fear and intimidation.
“It’s an issue we take very seriously and we will hold those responsible to account in order to prevent this happening in Norfolk.
“If you witness this crime in action or have information about illegal hare coursing, please share this with us so we can work together to catch those responsible.”
Anyone witnessing hare coursing in progress should call 999 immediately. Anyone with information about hare coursing or other wildlife crime should call 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers 100pc anonymously on 0800 555 111.