Four men have been fined for shooting at hares from their 4x4s in North Dorset.

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) for 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.

Shortly before 9am on Friday, July 30, 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 and that they were shooting at the hares from their moving vehicles.

Police arrested the men at the scene and seized a number of items including a vehicle and an air rifle.


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.

Following a police investigation, 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 or by calling 101.

"If a crime is in progress always dial 999.”