NFU win: Landmark hare coursing conviction

An image of the scales of justice

A landmark court case in Lincolnshire has seen hare coursers hit with hefty fines, dog and equipment seizures and a ban on keeping dogs.

It follows extensive local and national lobbying by the NFU to boost police and court powers to effectively tackle this barbaric crime.

Darren Lee, 26, and Ronnie Doherty, 21, were the first people to be convicted in the county under new and tougher legislation introduced last year, the Lincolnite reports.

They were hit with £13,000 worth of fines and costs after being convicted of coursing offences under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which became law in August 2022.

Lee, of Top Lane, Barnacle, Warwickshire, and Doherty, of Gipsy Lane, Irchester, Northamptonshire, pleaded guilty to two charges of trespass with intent to pursue hares with dogs – one in Gedney Dyke and the other in Whaplode Drove.

In light of the pleas, the Crown Prosecution Service withdrew a similar charge relating to West Pinchbeck and a charge of hunting a wild mammal elsewhere in South Holland, both on the same date as the offences which they admitted.

Lee and Doherty were ordered to pay an equal share of £11,144 kennelling and veterinary costs for four sighthounds seized from them on August 25 last year, on top of a fine of £416 for each of the offences, a victim surcharge of £166 and prosecution costs of £85. 

The pair also had to permanently forfeit the dogs and were disqualified from owning or keeping dogs for five years, suspended until March 31 to enable them to rehome their families’ other pets.

Lincolnshire rural lead Chief Inspector Steve Williamson said he hoped the convictions “sent a strong message”.

A 'genuine deterrent'

NFU county adviser for south Lincolnshire, Johanna Musson, said: “This is tremendous news and a landmark conviction. On behalf of farmers, some of whom have been terrorised by hare coursing, we offer a huge thank you to Lincolnshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their work on this case.

“This has been the culmination of extensive local and national lobbying from the NFU, working with the police and the PCC, for harsher sentences and increased police powers to tackle this barbaric activity that has plagued the Lincolnshire countryside for too long.

“We now have a genuine deterrent to hare coursers – if you come here, you’ll have your dogs, cars and equipment seized and receive a hefty fine.”   


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