March 9, 2023 11.00 am This story is over 7 months old

£13k bill for pair caught hare coursing in Lincolnshire

Banned from keeping dogs for five years

Two men who came to Lincolnshire to hare course together have each been handed £6,655 bills in court.

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, magistrates in Boston heard on Wednesday.

The pair were ordered to pay an equal share of £11,144 kennelling and veterinary costs for four sighthounds – Izzy, Lady, Lucy and Tyson – seized from them on August 25 last year.

The bench ordered Lee and Doherty to permanently forfeit the dogs and disqualified the men from owning or keeping dogs for five years, suspended until March 31 to enable them to rehome their families’ other pets.

The pair were arrested when a witness used binoculars to note a Jaguar’s registration plate as they fled Middle Drove, Gedney Dyke, after being seen bundling the sighthounds into the vehicle.

Prosecutor Paul Wood said a phone seized from Doherty contained voice messages and conversations about hare coursing as well as photos of leaflets of Lincolnshire Police’s combative Operation Galileo and the new legislation.

There were also 13 videos of hare coursing activity, with at least one filmed that day.

“Mr Doherty narrating ‘this is how me and young Darren goes coursing, boys,’” Mr Wood said.

Farmers were subsequently able to identify land in the footage as theirs.

Lincolnshire Police tackle hare coursing through Operation Galileo | Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Reporter

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.

Jason Patel, mitigating for both men, told the hearing there were no aggravating features of any damage or intimidation and they were at the lower end of offending.

“They are shouted at, they get into a vehicle and drive away,” he said. “There’s no dangerous driving or officers chasing them, or the like that can be associated with this offence.

“They have accepted what they have been caught for.”

He added: “This is an activity which is unfortunately entrenched in their history.

“These young men will have grown up with this activity around them.”

Mr Patel said the Jaguar belonged to Mr Doherty’s employer and his client had been paying the finance on it since it had been seized by police.

Lee and Doherty, who had no previous convictions, were both fined £416 for each of two offences and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £166 and prosecution costs of £85.

An order for the forfeiture and destruction of a thermal scope used to detect body heat of hares was also made.

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