Men found guilty of hare coursing near Tewkesbury after being spotted by game keeper

Tyre marks left by hare coursers in a separate incident. Credit: ITV West Country

Two men have been found guilty of hare coursing in Tewkesbury after they were spotted by a local game keeper.

Hare coursing is an illegal sport where greyhounds are used to chase hares by sight, often to their death or resulting in cruel and inhumane suffering of the wild animal.

Earlier this year police in Gloucestershire ramped up patrols as incidents of the illegal sport rose.

John Greedy, 19, of Broadstreet Common in Cardiff and 21-year-old Dougie Whitbread, of Coldwell Terrace in Pembroke, were each fined £541.50 after being found guilty of hunting a wild mammal with a dog. They appeared at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court last week.

The pair were also ordered to have their thermal imaging camera and binoculars forfeited under section 9 of the Hunting Act 2004. 

A thermal imaging camera was seized by police. Credit: Gloucestershire Police

The court heard on Thursday (2 December) how police were called to an estate in Dumbleton near Tewkesbury on the morning of Wednesday 26 November last year after concerns were raised about the behaviour of the men. 

A local game keeper had spotted the men and two dogs walking across a private field taking part in what looked like hunting.  

Police arrived to find a vehicle potentially belonging to the men parked down a country lane. The pair were then watched by officers who saw Greedy looking through binoculars before releasing his dog to chase a hare. 

Whitbread meanwhile was using a thermal imaging camera to look for more hares.  

Police stopped them before they killed any hares and approached them as they returned to their vehicle where they seized items of hunting paraphernalia.

A pair of binoculars were also seized. Credit: Gloucestershire Police

PC Phil Mawdsley, from the Rural Crime and Tewkesbury Neighbourhood Policing teams said: "Hare coursing is a UK Wildlife Crime priority and this is one of the many successful prosecutions that we've had in Gloucestershire. 

"Hare coursing is not welcome in our county and bringing offenders to justice is a priority for the Rural Crime Team.  

"The team has recently been accepted to join a nationally led operation, called Operation Galileo, which aims to target illegal hare coursing and I hope that this case shows how seriously we treat the crime. 

"This is the strongest that our rural community has been and I believe this is down to joint work to combat this crime and push criminality out of our county."