Video of moment Lincolnshire Police seize two hare coursing dogs at Digby Fen which have now been rehomed

Spencer the lurcher, who was seized from hare coursers at Digby Fen in September has now been rehomed by the courts. EMN-180119-095744001
Spencer the lurcher, who was seized from hare coursers at Digby Fen in September has now been rehomed by the courts. EMN-180119-095744001

Two hare coursing dogs will be rehomed for the first time following a successful police prosecution.

It is the first time that one of the county’s courts has given Lincolnshire Police permission to find the dogs a permanent new home – rather than having to return them to their owners.

Lincolnshire Police caught John Langan, 31, of The Hawthorns, Great Ayton, North Yorkshire and Thomas Jaffray, 34, of The Greenway, Middlesbrough, hare coursing in Digby Fen last September, and on Friday January 12, both were found guilty of a hare coursing offence at Lincoln Magistrates Court.

Hare coursing is where people release dogs in a field to chase a hare before killing it. This is gambled on and the dog that makes the hare change direction the most wins.

At present the dogs, Lucky and Spencer, both lurchers, are being cared for in a kennel where they have been since the arrest. The court imposed fines of £180, £300 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge on each of the men, and both were disqualified from driving for a couple of months. Both men are also banned from being on private land in Lincolnshire with lurchers or similar dogs or being with people who have these canine companions. A Community Behaviour Order that is in place for two years will prevent this.

Chief Superintendent Mark Housley said after the case: “We’ve waited for a result like this for some time, but I’m very pleased now we have got it.

“Here in Lincolnshire we know that by seizing dogs we stop people wanting to come here for hare coursing, and it also prevents all the violence towards farmers and the damage to their property that goes with it. People living in urban areas wouldn’t believe how bad this is – it’s soul destroying for farmers and their families, many of who I know have struggled to sleep at night because of threats made by hare coursers.”

He added: “The welfare of the dogs is also very important to us. Only a week ago we came across a dog that had been left in a field to die as the hare coursers left her so they could escape from police officers. Our officers were horrified to see she had been fatally struck on her head. We will continue to make every effort to tackle this cruel and supposed ‘sport’, and get the animals into the caring home a dog should have.”

The NFU’s county adviser for Holland (Lincs), Danny O’Shea, added: “The NFU is working closely with Lincolnshire Police on Operation Galileo again this year. We are pleased that the concerted effort the police are undertaking is starting to produce results.

“Seizing cars and dogs from hare coursers takes away the means of committing this awful crime. Although the numbers of reported incidents is slightly lower so far this year, the NFU and our members are concerned that these criminals are resorting to violence and increased levels of intimidation in pursuit of their so-called sport.

“We are urging all farmers and their staff, and indeed anyone who lives in the Lincolnshire countryside, to report any incidents of hare coursing they witness or are aware of. We have to send a clear message to coursers - Lincolnshire is off limits.”

He said: “The NFU will continue to lobby at national level for safer funding for Lincolnshire Police and for stiffer punishments for hare coursing. The intimidation and violence that these criminals bring with them when they come to Lincolnshire are unacceptable and so the NFU is working with Government, police forces across the country, the Crown Prosecution Service and other agencies to bring about an end to this blight on our countryside.”

During the last quarter (September – December 2017) Lincolnshire Police has seen a 16.5 per cent reduction in hare coursing on the same period last year.