A man has been sentenced after pleading guilty to a poaching offence in Surrey which took place in December 2019.
Christopher Tucker, 33, of Carshalton, pleaded guilty to possessing an article to kill or take game, contrary to the Night Poaching Act 1828 when he appeared at Guildford Magistrates’ Court last month.
Police were called following reports of lamping and suspected poaching on land in Warlingham on 12 December 2019.
They searched nearby woods with assistance from a gamekeeper and came across two adults and a child, all of whom made off from police before they were eventually detained.
The adults were arrested on suspicion of night poaching and entering land unlawfully with a firearm.
One of the men, Tucker, was also found in possession of a head torch, catapult and ball bearings.
Tucker was charged following a lengthy investigation. No further action was taken against the other man arrested.
Tucker was ordered to forfeit the catapult and ball bearings and was also ordered to pay a fine and costs amounting to £197.
PC Laura Rowley, Rural Crime Officer for Surrey Police, said that during her four years in her role, this case was the first time a crime of its type went to court.
"It is notoriously difficult to prosecute this offence due to a number of reasons, including lack of eyewitnesses or proof of the offence taking place," PC Rowley said, adding that the court were also using an offence from the 1800s.
"The fact that the defendant has been prosecuted should reassure residents that we are invested in rural crime and bringing offenders to justice."
Poaching can cause extensive damage to crops, fields and fences – and leave farmers and landowners in fear of violence and retaliation.
Poachers, who typically hunt brown hare or deer, normally travel in groups of up to four people, with dogs, using 4x4 vehicles.
Incidents tend to increase significantly from August onwards, during and after harvest time.