Man jailed for hare coursing wins appeal against custodial sentence

Sheriff Appeal Court
Sheriff Appeal Court

A man who was jailed for four months after being found guilty of hare coursing has successfully appealed against his sentence.

The Sheriff Appeal Court allowed the appeal after ruling that the sheriff ought to have imposed a “substantial fine” as an alternative to custody.

Sheriff Principal Marysia Lewis and Sheriff Sean Murphy QC heard that the appellant Mark Reid appeared before the sheriff in Perth of contravention of section 1 of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.

The sheriff imposed imprisonment for a period of four months, having regard to the fact that the appellant had a “directly analogous conviction” dating from 2007 in this jurisdiction and a subsequent conviction for “poaching” in England dating from 2011.

The sheriff also took the view that the appellant was “unlikely” to pay any fine, despite the fact that he had been told that the appellant while currently in receipt of benefits, had capital out of which a fine could be met.

However, he appealed, arguing that the sentence imposed was “excessive”.

The advocate for the appellant repeated the submission that the appellant was in a position to pay a substantial fine, with capital of £2,000 available to meet a financial penalty, and that he was also in a position to perform unpaid work as part of a community payback order.

Having taken all these matters into consideration, but in particular taking into account the submission that on all previous occasions when fines were imposed the appellant has met those fines without difficulty, the appeal sheriffs considered that the sheriff “did not appropriately impose a period of custody when a fine could have been levied against the appellant”.

In a written statement of reasons, Sheriff Murphy said: “The sheriff’s concerns of his ability to pay do not seem to have been supported either on the submission made or on the consideration that all previous fines were paid timeously.

“Accordingly in these circumstances we consider that the appropriate course for this court to take would be to quash the period of imprisonment which was imposed by the sheriff and to substitute therefore payment of a substantial fine of some £1,500.

“The level of that fine is assessed by reference to the appellant’s apparent ability to pay and in view of the fact that this is now his third offence concerning matters involving wildlife.

“We shall order payment of that fine within seven days and we shall impose an alternative today of 45 days’ imprisonment to be served in the event of that fine not being paid within that period.”

© Scottish Legal News Ltd 2021