Hare coursers handed Criminal Behaviour Orders

James Bell and Patrick Rooney were among the four in the group who have been handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) 

James Bell and Patrick Rooney were among the four in the group who have been handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) - Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

A group of men who were caught hare coursing in Cambridgeshire have been handed orders banning them from any similar activity in four counties.

Thomas Connors, 43, Patrick Rooney, 36, Anthony Connors, 34, and James Bell, 20, were first spotted by police on land in Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire, on November 4.

Officers from the force’s Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) caught the four men, who were also with a 12-year-old boy, driving through a field looking for hares.

On seeing the police, they drove off through wildlife conservation areas and, after a short pursuit through the village, drove onto another field before stopping.

Thomas Connors was handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) 

Thomas Connors was handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) - Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

All four were interviewed and previous poaching convictions were revealed.

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The vehicle was seized and the men were ordered to leave the county.

They all pleaded guilty to daytime trespass in pursuit of game (poaching) at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday (September 22) and were each handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) lasting three years.

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The order prevents them from (while in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex):

  • Being on private agricultural or farm land, or any yards or working areas associated with that land, in or on any vehicle, or on foot whilst in possession of one or more sight hound or x-sight hound breed, unless the land owner’s written permission has been obtained beforehand

All four were also ordered to pay £178 in compensation to the owner of the fields and wildlife conservation areas.

Anthony Connors was also handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) 

Anthony Connors was also handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) - Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

In addition, Thomas Connors, of Carew Road, Wallington, Surrey, was fined £150, while Anthony Connors, of Croydon Road, Keston, Kent; Rooney, of Rutland Avenue, High Wycombe; and Bell, of Oaksview Park, Murcott, Kidlington, Oxfordshire, were fined £200.

The court result comes after news that Cambridgeshire Constabulary had teamed up with six other police forces in the eastern region to tackle hare coursing.

The borders between the forces, which include Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent, have now been removed when using certain tactics, making it more easy to apprehend and prosecute offenders.

The agreement, which has been completed with the support of the Crown Prosecution Service, means the forces become one when using certain powers.

This will assist with the use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), the seizure of dogs and the sharing of all interactions and movements of people suspected to be involved in hare coursing.

Photo of offending vehicle 

Photo of offending vehicle - Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

Sergeant Craig Flavell, from the RCAT, said: “Though this case was submitted before the launch of the seven-force collaboration around illegal coursing, lamping and poaching, it shows that the courts support us and our colleagues in tackling these activities across the East of England.

“The effectiveness of the CBOs will be put to the test, because if they breach them they will be arrested and put before the courts again with a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

“The East of England’s flat and rural landscape makes it a popular area for hare coursing and other rural crime, but as a force we work hard to bring offenders to justice.

“People can help us tackle hare coursing by looking out for groups of vehicles parked in rural areas (particularly by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, or on a farm track or bridleway), estate cars, four-wheel drives or vans with dogs inside or groups of people using binoculars to spot hares.

Anyone who sees illegal coursing, lamping or poaching in progress should call 999.”

For more information on rural crime, including how you can help, visit the force’s dedicated web page: https://bit.ly/3iaU1qY

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