Three men have been convicted of poaching after they were spotted illegally using dogs to hunt.

The men were caught hunting wildlife with several Saluki and Lurcher-type dogs in October last year when a police officer noticed two suspicious vehicles in the Darlington area. Rural officer PCSO Andy Cusick had been patrolling around Bishopton Lane in Sadberge when he spotted the cars parked on Hillhouse Lane.

He carried out a search of the nearby area, which is where he spotted Anthony Foster, 31, Edward Foster, 30, and Scott Ian Revell, 35, walking the dogs across private farmland. PCSO Cusick used specialist camera equipment to video the men who could be seen using a thermal imaging monocular before releasing the hounds to chase a hare that had broken cover.

The men were reported for poaching and swiftly interviewed by officers, however the men denied the offence. They claimed that they had simply been out for a walk with their dogs, however officers confirmed there were no public footpaths through the fields and the men had not received permission from the landowner to be on the land.

The trio appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, May 16, where they eventually pled guilty to the charges. Anthony Foster, of East Howle, Ferryhill, was ordered to pay a £200 fine for the offence.

The men could be seen using a thermal imaging monocular before releasing the hounds to chase a hare that had broken cover (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Edward Foster, 30, of Japonica Way, Norton, Stockton, was fined £120, and Scott Ian Revell, 35, of Somerset Road, Stockton, was fined £150. All three were also ordered to pay court costs and a victim surcharge.

Sergeant Karl Lowe, from Darlington Neighbourhood Police Team, said: “This type of offending is not only cruel to wildlife but has a profound impact on rural communities, causing damage to crops and farmland which can be extremely costly for the farmer or landowner to resolve.

“PCSO Cusick’s tenacity and his use of specialist camera equipment to capture the suspects in the act provided irrefutable evidence to secure a conviction at court.

“I hope this sends a warning to others who think that illegally poaching wildlife is acceptable, that we will catch you and we will prosecute you.”

This article by Miriam Goodman was first published by Teesside LIve on 20 May 2023. Lead Image: The men were spotted by PCSO Andy Cusick who had been patrolling the area (Image: Durham Constabulary).

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