Man 'glorified' hare coursing in self-made videos
PUBLISHED: 19:45 19 July 2019 | UPDATED: 21:18 19 July 2019
A man 'glorified' hare coursing as he filmed his dogs chasing and savaging the animals on his phone.
The videos came to light after police and the RSPCA raided Leo Price's home at the Brooks Green travellers site on Mangreen Lane, Keswick on June 11 last year.
They found a cache of guns, ammunition and cannabis plants. Price was jailed for seven years on January 11 this year for possession of the firearms and cannabis.
But five lurchers were also seized from the site, along with Price's mobile phone.
When RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport examined Price's phone he found images of dead hares and videos of Price setting his dogs loose across fields to chase them.
"The critical evidence comes from those videos," said prosecutor Jonathan Eales. "The evidence in this case is from his own phone."
Price, currently a serving prisoner at HMP Wayland, refused to come to court and the case was proved in his absence.
The 26-year-old was convicted of six counts of hunting a wild mammal with dogs, between January and April of last year.
The court also ordered the dogs to be forfeited so the RSPCA can find new homes for them.
Mr Eales said: "The dogs have been boarded at the expense of the RSPCA since June 2018, and at the expense of the dogs' own welfare.
"The cost of boarding these dogs runs into thousands of pounds. The sole reason for this prosecution is to deal with the five dogs seized from the premises.
"Society has given a huge expense looking after these dogs. The last thing society would want is to hand them back to the person with whom these offences were committed.
"They need to be rehomed and put into an appropriate environment."
In interview Price admitted the dogs and phone were his, and told officers they would find videos of his dogs chasing and killing hares.
"When asked about the hunting offence he said he regularly walks his dogs and lets them off the lead," said Mr Eales. "He accepted they would run and kill hares.
"He takes pictures of it but he isn't on a 'killing spree'."
In the videos, shown to Norwich Magistrates Court, Price is seen holding a dead hare, and in others "praising" his dogs after making a kill.
"In one video a hare appears and the dog is slipped off its lead to pursue the hare," said Mr Eales.
At least two of Price's dogs, called 'Foxy' and 'Governor', are seen in the videos.
"One of the real issues os the glorification of the act, as seen in the videos and photographs," Mr Eales added.
Ian Fisher, for Price, argued for the dogs to be returned to the family at the travellers' site.
He said the Price family had lived there for 25 years, occupying eight plots.
"There is no issue of ill-treatment, neglect or lack of care to the dogs themselves," he said.
"They were kept in properly constructed kennels at the travellers site."
Magistrates ordered forfeiture of the dogs and fined Price £100 for each of the six counts.
They also ordered him to pay £500 court costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
RSPCA Special Operations Unit inspector Carroll Lamport said: "These videos were extremely shocking and upsetting, showing hare screaming as they're caught and killed.
"Hare coursing is illegal, cruel and barbaric. It has no place in today's society."