A High Wycombe man is among a group who were caught hare coursing - and has been handed a banning order.

Patrick Rooney, of Rutland Avenue, was one of four men caught driving through a field in Abbotts Ripton in Cambridgeshire looking for hares on November 4 last year.

When the four men saw police, they drove off through wildlife conservation areas and after a short chase through the village, drove onto another field before eventually stopping.

When they were interviewed by police, previous poaching convictions were revealed, their vehicle seized and the men were ordered to leave Cambridgeshire.

Thomas Connors, 43, Patrick Rooney, 36, Anthony Connors, 34, and James Bell, 20, all pleaded guilty to daytime trespass in pursuit of game (poaching) at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday, September 22, and were each handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) lasting three years.

The order bans them from being on private agricultural or farm land in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex while in possession of one or more sight hounds - unless they have the landowner's written permission beforehand.

All four were also ordered to pay £178 in compensation to the owner of the fields and wildlife conservation areas.

In addition, Thomas Connors, of Carew Road, Wallington, Surrey, was fined £150, while Anthony Connors, of Croydon Road, Keston, Kent, Rooney, of Rutland Avenue, High Wycombe, and Bell, of Oaksview Park, Murcott, Kidlington, Oxfordshire, were fined £200.

Sergeant Craig Flavell, of Cambridgeshire Police's Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT), said: “Though this case was submitted before the launch of the seven-force collaboration around illegal coursing, lamping and poaching, it shows that the courts support us and our colleagues in tackling these activities across the East of England.

“The effectiveness of the CBOs will be put to the test, because if they breach them they will be arrested and put before the courts again with a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

“The East of England’s flat and rural landscape makes it a popular area for hare coursing and other rural crime, but as a force we work hard to bring offenders to justice."