A man has been convicted of hare coursing on Cotswold farmland - accompanied by two boys.

On New Year's Day (January 1, 2021) Anthony Williams, of Southend Lane in Newent, entered farmland in the Cotswolds during the hours of darkness while accompanied by two boys.

Williams then encouraged his Lurcher type dogs to hunt hares on the land.

The crime was being watched by the game keeper of the private estate near Cirencester who immediately called 999.

Police officers quickly arrived and the man and two boys were arrested at the scene.

Their vehicle and the dogs were also seized.

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On September 30, 30-year-old Williams was ordered to pay a fine after being convicted of hare coursing.

The two boys were dealt with separately by a Youth Offending Team.

Williams was summonsed to court for his actions.

The court heard how Williams' crime was premeditated, he had subjected numerous hares to cruelty and caused the land owner and game keeper distress.

Williams was convicted of the offence under the 2004 Hunting Act and was ordered to pay a fine of £1713 within 28 days.

PC Weller from the Rural Crime Team said: "The Rural Crime Team work closely with the farming and wildlife protection communities and these acts of cruelty in our county will not be tolerated.

"We will continue to show a zero tolerance policy when it comes to hare coursing as it wreaks so much pain and suffering on the wildlife, as well as disruption and fear in the farming community.

"Knowing this we thought it was more suitable to prosecute Mr Williams under the 2004 Hunting Act which carries a far more substantial fine.

"We will aim to utilise the 2004 legislation in all future prosecutions as it allows us impose the heftier fines, which will act as a greater deterrent."

Between 2005 and 2018 the average UK court imposed fine for hare coursing was below £250 when defendants were prosecuted under the Game Act legislation.