Deer coursers who appeared in court accused of allowing dogs to maul animals for sport have been branded as “barbaric”.
Three men appeared at Corby Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to three offences relating to an incident at Apethorpe in December last year. A fourth had already been sentenced at a previous hearing.
The court heard how Malcolm Bateson, 37, from Doncaster, and Ryan Kennett, 28, and Anthony Littlewood, from Barnsley, travelled to the county in a Land Rover V8. But they did not know that police were expecting them, and had set up an operation to catch them.
They had earlier pleaded guilty to an offence of pursuing deer with the intent to take, kill or injure, a count of criminal damage and one of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Prosecutor Susan Martin said: “This incident was investigated by police as a field in the north east of the county had suffered from deer coursing with dogs. The offenders drove on to farmland with a 4x4 vehicle in the early hours to find a herd of deer and released dogs to catch it.
“Officers were conducting their operation at Lodge Farm near Apethorpe when four men arrived in a V8. They were seen looking for deer near woodland using large, hand-held lamps.
“They pursued the deer over crops in their vehicle which caused a lot of damage.
“There were several chases with dogs. A dog caught a deer and mauled it, then it was brought down again and it was released again.”
Police then moved in an discovered there were six lurcher dogs involved.
A vet who later viewed video footage taken by the force helicopter, which was recording from 18,000ft, said that after running for four minutes the deer would have been approaching exhaustion.
The incident would have caused the deer to be physically and psychologically distressed.
The trio were given an 18-week suspended prison sentence.
Littlewood and Kennett were ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work and Bateson was given a four-month curfew keeping him at home between 9pm and 7am. They were all ordered to pay £726 compensation to the farmer.