Four men banned from Suffolk farmland after hare coursing conviction

Thomas Connors, Patrick Rooney, Anthony Connors and James Bell have been banned from farmland in Suffolk

Thomas Connors, Patrick Rooney, Anthony Connors and James Bell have been banned from farmland in Suffolk - Credit: Cambridgeshire police

Four men who were caught hare coursing in a Cambridgeshire village have been banned from entering farmland in Suffolk.

Thomas Connors, 43, Patrick Rooney, 36, Anthony Connors, 34, and James Bell, 20, were first spotted by police on land in Abbots Ripton on November 4 last year.

Officers from Cambridgeshire police's Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) caught the four men, who were also with Connors’ 12-year-old son, driving through a field looking for hares.

After seeing the police, the group drove off through wildlife conservation areas and, after a short pursuit through the village, drove onto another field before coming to a stop.

The four men were interviewed by police and their previous convictions for hare coursing were revealed.

Their vehicle was seized and the men were ordered to leave the county.

The four all pleaded guilty to daytime trespass in pursuit of game at Cambridge Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, September 22 and were each handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) lasting three years.

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The order prevents them from being on private agricultural or farmland without the landowner's permission in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

Sergeant Craig Flavell, from Cambridgeshire police's RCAT, said: "Though this case was submitted before the launch of the seven-force collaboration around illegal coursing, lamping and poaching, it shows that the courts support us and our colleagues in tackling these activities across the East of England.

"The effectiveness of the CBOs will be put to the test, because if they breach them they will be arrested and put before the courts again with a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

"The East of England’s flat and rural landscape makes it a popular area for hare coursing and other rural crime, but as a force we work hard to bring offenders to justice."