Men banned from keeping dogs after pleading guilty to hare coursing

Two men have been banned from keeping dogs after being caught hare coursing on farmland near Forfar.
The men were caught hare coursing with a lurcher-type dog on land near Forfar in November 2020.The men were caught hare coursing with a lurcher-type dog on land near Forfar in November 2020.
The men were caught hare coursing with a lurcher-type dog on land near Forfar in November 2020.

Alexander Stewart, 35, of Aberdeen and Jackie Stewart, 42, from Fife, pleaded guilty at Forfar Sheriff Court to wildlife offences carried out in 2020.

The court previously heard that in the early morning of Sunday, November 8, 2020, a local farmer spotted a Subaru belonging to Alexander Stewart pulling out of a junction at the crossroads of Powmyre and Kinalty, which he recognised from earlier hare coursing incidents in the area.

The farmer contacted his father to tell him what he had seen and also contacted the police. The father drove to the Redwell Farm and the Balindarg area where he thought it would be more likely hare coursers would go to course and saw Alexander Stewart’s car parked on the road facing him. He stopped and noted the registration number before driving past. He saw two individuals in the field to his right, one of which had a tan-coloured lurcher-type dog on a lead. He was in no doubt that they were hare coursing.

The men had previously pleaded guilty at Forfar Sheriff Court.The men had previously pleaded guilty at Forfar Sheriff Court.
The men had previously pleaded guilty at Forfar Sheriff Court.

Three police officers arrived and saw Jackie Stewart and a boy running towards the Subaru. Alexander Stewart was in the car with two other boys. Both were detained while they and the car were searched, and a mobile phone and a pair of binoculars were seized. The men were arrested and taken to Dundee Police Office. The boys were taken to Forfar Police Office where they were searched, and Jackie Stewart’s mobile was seized from one of them.

The phones were analysed and Alexander Stewart’s was found to hold several incriminating voice note messages as well as a photo of a young boy holding a dead hare. Jackie Stewart’s mobile phone revealed a text message from November 3 that on November 1 “a first chase killed it over down a road” and a video and the men and boys on November 8, 2020 on which the men can be heard discussing the decline of hares in the area due to them being killed.

Alexander Stewart was given a Community Payback Order with 100 hours of unpaid work and Jackie Stewart was fined £1000. The court granted the forfeiture of a vehicle, three mobile phones and a set of binoculars. The men were also banned from keeping dogs for six months.

Speaking after the sentencing, Fiona Caldwell, Head of the Crown’s Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit, said: "I welcome the conviction and sentence of Alexander and Jackie Stewart.

"Hare coursing is a cruel and wholly illegal act.

"The Crown will continue to work to ensure that anyone who hunts hares with dogs is brought to justice.

"We would encourage anyone who may have information on hare coursing to contact the police."