Five Britons convicted of illegal hare coursing

In what is a first in Belgium five Britons have been convicted of illegal hare coursing using greyhounds. The five were give 9-month suspended prison sentences and fines 8,000 euro. The trial judge Jan Van den Berghe was sharp in his condemnation of the men “Uncontrolled hunting just for the pleasure of the kill and probably for profit is not just a crime against nature, but also unethical conduct”.

Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares with greyhounds and other sighthounds, which chase the hare by sight and not by scent. Often considerable sums of money are bet on hare coursing competitions. The amount bet can run into the tens of thousands of euro.

Hare coursing has been banned in the UK for some years, making hare coursers look elsewhere to practice their “sport”.

On 3 January the hare coursers the 5 Britons fled after they were confronted by a Belgian hunter. They crashed their car as they made their escape and were detained by police.

In his summing up the Judge said “Through their illegal hunting practices they have damaged nature. The number of hare has been falling in recent years”.

“No dead hare were found which would suggest that the hunter were only interested in fun and profit.

Defence solicitor "Ground-breaking verdict"

Defence counsel Thomas Gillis is satisfied with the verdict “It is a ground-breaking verdict. The Judge has not only given a clear signal that should serve as a deterrent. He has also taken into considereation the fact that the accused are not incoorigable re-offenders”.

Mr Gillis added that he believes the verdict will hit home to those in the UK that are thinking of hare coursing here.