Page last updated at 09:42 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 10:42 UK

Jail threat for hare coursing duo

Hare coursing
Greyhounds and lurchers are used in hare coursing

Two men found guilty of hare coursing have been warned they could go to jail.

Robert Clements, 44, and David Scott, 40, both from Lanarkshire, used three lurchers to hunt a juvenile hare on farmland in Cowie, near Stirling.

Sentence on the men, who had denied the charge, was deferred until next month at Stirling Sheriff Court.

The court was told that police officers found the men in the field after a tip-off from a local farmer in November last year.

When they approached the pair, an officer saw Clements try to dispose of a dead hare by throwing it down an embankment.

I'm not prepared to declare that Lanarkshire is devoid of rabbits
Sheriff Andrew Cubie

Clements, of Blantyre and Scott, from Carluke, had claimed they were actually hunting rabbits.

They said they drove to Cowie's Sink Farm because there were no rabbits closer to home, but one of the dogs had "retrieved a hare" instead.

During the trial, police wildlife and environmental officer Malcolm O'May said he witnessed the two men with three dogs, one of which was on a slip lead often used to allow quick release while hunting.

'Still warm'

He said: "I got out of the car and saw one of the men toss what I suspected to be a hare down the railway embankment.

"I approached the men, explained why I was there and asked what they had thrown down the embankment.

"I went down to have a search and retrieved it.

"It was dead. My guess was it was just killed because it was still warm and the body was soft."

Under cross-examination from fiscal depute Jim Graham, Clements said: "There are no rabbits in Blantyre. Anyone will tell you all the rabbits are towards Stirling and Perthshire."

Thrown away

Scott, who said he owned 14 sporting dogs, added: "I'm not into hare coursing. I go for rabbits. I've been doing it since I was a wee boy.

"But there are very few rabbits in Lanarkshire."

Finding both guilty of hare coursing, Sheriff Cubie said: "I'm not prepared to declare that Lanarkshire is devoid of rabbits.

"There was acceptance from both accused that the dog retrieved the carcass and that the hare was thrown away when police arrived.

"There was also the failure to kill one rabbit.

"I am satisfied that what was going on was hare coursing."


SEE ALSO
Hare coursing threats to farmers
08 Jun 07 |  Tayside and Central
Police to combat hare coursing
31 Aug 06 |  North East/N Isles
Wildlife crime initiative hatched
30 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Court backs hunting ban
31 Jul 02 |  Scotland

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