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Poachers banned from keeping dogs for three years in ‘legal first’

Two poachers have been banned from owning or keeping dogs for three years in what prosecutors described as a legal first.

Essex Police said David Hilden, 39, and 35-year-old Tyron Young were stopped by officers while walking with four dogs across crop fields on October 15 2022.

Two of the dogs were lurchers on slip leads.

The force said there were no public footpaths in the area, on Peacock Hill near Littlebury, Saffron Walden, and the landowner had not given the men permission to be on the land.

Police seized the vehicle the pair used to travel to the Saffron Walden area. (Essex Police/ PA)
Police seized the vehicle that the pair used to travel to the Saffron Walden area (Essex Police/ PA)

Both men admitted at Colchester Magistrates’ Court to a charge of daytime trespass in pursuit of game, Essex Police said.

The court was told they had travelled to the area from south London with dogs which were to be used to poach game.

When interviewed by officers at the scene, Hilden, of Lathams Way, Croydon, south London, admitted he had gone on to the land to pursue rabbits.

Young, of Bolton Drive, Morden, south London, had claimed to be walking his dog.

Officers seized their vehicle at the time and, following further inquiries, the pair were summonsed to court, with a hearing taking place on Tuesday.

In sentencing them, magistrates used new legislative powers designed to target poachers, Essex Police said.

An order made, banning them from owning or keeping dogs for three years, was the first court order made under section 66 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, the force said.

This provides for disqualification orders on conviction for certain poaching offences and pursuing hares involving dogs, and Section 66 of the Act came into force on August 1 2022.

Hilden was also fined £120 and ordered to pay court costs of £105 and a victim surcharge of £48, while Young was fined £200 and ordered to pay £105 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

Sally Robinson, District Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England and CPS Hare Coursing Lead, said: “This type of offending has a profound impact on rural and farming communities, which is why I am thrilled that, in a legal first, we successfully asked the court to apply disqualification orders in this case.

“I hope this sends a warning to anyone who thinks about poaching any form of wildlife, that we will not hesitate to ask for these orders whenever possible.

“We will continue to clamp down on poachers – working closely with the police and other partner agencies – using all the powers at our disposal.”

Investigating officer Pc Nigel Wright, of the Rural Engagement Team, said: “The poaching of wild animals is extremely cruel but it can also cause a lot of damage to crops and farmland, which is very costly for the land owner or farmer.

“Dogs are integral to poaching and I am delighted that the magistrates were able to use this new legislation to deprive these two poachers of any access to dogs, even just walking someone else’s, for the next three years.”