Four men have been sentenced at court for a poaching offence in North Dorset following an investigation by Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team.

John Frederick Burton, aged 28 and of Basildon, Essex, Tommy Edward Catanach, 24 and of Romford, Essex, William Holmes, 22 and of Milton, Cambridgeshire, and Levie Lee, 19 and of Stondon Massey, Essex, were all due to stand trial at Poole Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 19 April 2022 for an offence of trespassing in pursuit of game, having previously entered not guilty pleas.

However, all four defendants entered guilty pleas to the charge on the morning the trial was due to start.

Burton and Catanach were both fined £900, as well as being ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £90 and court costs of £77.50. Holmes was fined £780 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £79 and costs of £77.50 and Lee was fined £675 as well as being ordered to pay a £68 surcharge and £77.50 in costs.

Shortly before 9am on Friday 30 July 2021 Dorset Police received a report of suspected poaching in the Cashmoor area. It was reported that four men in off road vehicles were trespassing on farmland as they chased hares.

It was reported that the men were shooting at the hares from moving vehicles.

Officers attended and, following a search, four men were arrested and a number of items were seized including a vehicle and an air rifle.

Following a detailed investigation by the Rural Crime Team, all four men were charged with an offence under section 30 of the Game Act 1831.

Police Constable Sebastian Haggett, of Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team, said: “We recognise the impact this kind of illegal activity can have on our rural communities, with the potential for significant damage to crops and other issues caused by vehicles driving over their land.

“We are committed to working with our rural communities as well as our national and local partners to ensure we take reports of this nature seriously. In this case we were able to detain the offenders at the scene and subsequently bring them before the courts.

“Anyone who sees any suspicious activity that they believe could be related to poaching is urged to report it immediately. Contact Dorset Police at, via email [email protected] or by calling 101. If a crime is in progress always dial 999.”

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