Pair deny hunting wild animal with dog, while another admits poaching

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court (stock image). Picture: GREGG BROWN

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court (stock image). Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Two men have denied hunting wild animals with a dog in a Suffolk field last November.

William Johnson and Anthony Webster entered not guilty pleas to charges under the Hunting Act at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court, in Ipswich, on Tuesday.

Johnson, 38, of Northampton Road, Market Harborough, was accused of hunting a wild mammal with a dog on land in Great Ashfield, near Bury Saint Edmunds, on November 5.

Webster, 37, of The Pines, Holywell Row, faced a charge of aiding abetting Johnson to hunt a mammal with a dog in the same location on the same date.

Both men denied the charges and were released on conditional bail until their trial at the same court on April 4.

In a separate hearing, William Cook, 28, of Longwood Avenue, Longfield, Kent, admitted trespassing on private land in Upper Green, Higham, near Bury St Edmunds, in search or pursuit of game.

According to the prosecution, Cook was seen exiting a Mercedes four-wheel-drive with a lurcher-type dog at about 9am on the morning December 4.

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Police were called by the landowner, who had discovered several hare carcasses in the field during preceding two weeks.

Officers arrived and followed the Mercedes, driven by another person, as it turned into the corner of the field – but were unable to pursue Cook and the dog across the uneven terrain.

He then returned with the dog on a lead, and told police he had been out walking the animal and was “minding his own business”.

He claimed not to have known he was on private land, but wanted to walk his dog in the countryside because his home county of Kent was full of traffic.

Cook, who had a previous conviction for a similar offence in 2008, admitted the poaching charge in court but claimed to have no connection with the Mercedes.

The court heard how he was in search of rabbits, but that there was no suggestion he had anything to do with the hare carcasses discovered during the previous fortnight.

He was described as a “family man” with two young children and a third due in a few months.

District Judge Celia Dawson fined Cook £150 for the offence. He was also ordered to pay £105 in prosecution costs and mandatory £30 surcharge to fund victim services.

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