Hare hunter a target for sheriff’s wrath

Sheriff Paterson, pictured, warned Stuart Brunt that he could be jailed.
Sheriff Paterson, pictured, warned Stuart Brunt that he could be jailed.

A member of a hare-coursing gang has been warned he faces the prospect of a prison sentence after being caught in the act on a Borders estate.

Stuart Brunt, 27, was told he had “no respect for wildlife” after he and two others were apprehended by police with seven dead hares lying in heather nearby with fresh injuries.

The offence was committed at Tollishill Estate, which is owned by the Duke of Northumberland, near Oxton in the Lammermuir Hills on January 29.

Brunt, of Wiltshire Road, Derby, pleaded guilty at Selkirk Sheriff Court on Monday to a breach of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act (Scotland) 2002 by deliberately hunting seven hares with four lurcher dogs.

Sheriff Peter Paterson told the forklift driver: “Society is rightly repelled at this sort of hunting of beautiful creatures like hares. They are not in any way of sort vermin.

“It defeats right-thinking people why anyone would want to do this.

“Your record suggests you have no respect for wildlife.”

The sheriff added: “I am going to call for reports to see if there is an alternative to a custodial sentence.”

Brunt will be sentenced on April 24.

The two other members of the gang have already appeared in court charged with the same offence.

Twenty-seven-year-old Ryan Spence, of Guisborough, North Yorkshire, had has sentence deferred until April 11 for background reports, while Anthony Webster, 36, of Suffolk, was fined £600.