The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)

Angus hare coursing man may face jail

Courts: Defence agent pleads that client may lose his job if he is imprisoned

- RICHARD WATT riwatt@thecourier.co.uk

A man has been warned he could face jail after admitting hare coursing charges at an Angus farm.

Colin Stewart appeared at Forfar Sheriff Court on Tuesday, facing charges of hunting brown hares with dogs near Kirriemuir.

Stewart, who appeared from custody, admitted the animal offences at Ladywell Farm, formerly known as Wester Logie Farm, on a number of dates this year.

He further admitted the offence was committed while on bail.

Co-accused Mark Stewart and Raymond Higgins deny the charges and Colin Stewart will be sentenced on the outcome of their trial.

The 31-year-old’s defence agent said his client was due to marry soon and feared for his job.

He said: “His recidivism has reduced in recent years, due to the fact he has his own family.

“He has a significan­t link to the community he’s part of.

“He has a job in Aberdeen that will be in jeopardy if he remains in custody.”

However Stewart, of Blackthorn Crescent, Aberdeen will remain in custody until June 28 at the earliest.

Sheriff Gregor Murray said: “It is far from out of the question you will receive a custodial sentence.”

Prosecutor­s allege that the men from Aberdeen travelled “far and wide” across Scotland to hunt the mammals.

Specialist wildlife fiscal Fiona Caldwell previously said the men originally appeared on a charge alleging a single offence on March 27, but the summary complaint had been widened to include “hare coursing over a period of time and on repeated occasions” at the farm.

“The brown hare is a protected species under section 6 of the Wildlife and Natural Environmen­t (Scotland) Act,” she said.

“Its peaks of activity tend to be in the spring and autumn, when the fields are bare.

“At this time of year they are particular­ly vulnerable to this kind of offending.”

Mark Stewart, 26, Clinterty Caravan Park and Raymond Higgins, 45, Summerhill Road, both Aberdeen, deny deliberate­ly hunting brown hare with three dogs.

Both men were bailed with the special condition that they do not dispose of or destroy any dogs involved in the case.

Hunting hares carries a maximum sixmonth sentence.

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