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Convicted criminal avoids jail despite handful of rural crime offences

A man sentenced for poaching offences and a farm burglary has been given a Criminal Behaviour Order.

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Criminal avoids jail despite pleading not guilty to rural crime offences

Lewis Longstaffe, 23, of Sandy Lane, Upton, Poole, appeared at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 20, 2018.

 

He had previously admitted offences of trespassing on land at night and taking or destroying game and using a weapon to kill or take a wild bird as well as being found guilty of a burglary, following a trial.

 

In the early hours of Friday, December 22, 2017 three men were captured on a trail camera that had been set up outside a pheasant pen on an area of private land near Wareham.

 

They were seen using a hand lamp and catapult to take pheasants from the pen.

 

One of the men was identified as Lewis Longstaffe.


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Between Saturday, April 29, 2017 and Tuesday, May 2, 2017 a burglary happened at a farm building near Dorchester. A padlock was forced and various equipment valued at around £2,700 was taken.

 

A discarded screwdriver was found on the floor by the door and DNA analysis linked it to the defendant.

Longstaffe denied the offence and was found guilty following a trial on Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

 

He admitted the poaching offences on the same date and was sentenced to a community order with a requirement to carry out 50 hours of unpaid work in the community, a rehabilitation activity requirement and was ordered to pay £750 compensation for the poaching and £350 for the burglary offence.

Longstafffe has now been made the subject of a Criminal Behaviour Order, which runs until September 20, 2023 and states he must not:

 

• Be on any private land without prior written permission from the owner or legal representative of the land and to produce any such written permission when asked to do so by a police officer, unless it is land to which the public have access.

• Be in possession of any dog while on private land whether the public have access or not.

• Be in possession of a wild animal, wild bird or part of a wild animal or wild bird living or dead in Dorset.

• Be in possession of a catapult in any place other than a dwelling in Dorset.

 

In July this year the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) launched a nationwide strategy on Wildlife Crime and Rural Affairs, which identifies the national priority areas.

 

One of these priorities is poaching, with senior police officers leading work in conjunction with expert partners to tackle the issue.

 

Police Constable Claire Dinsdale, of Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team, said: “On behalf of the rural community we very much welcome this result.

 

“Crimes such as poaching, criminal damage, burglary and theft are prevalent across Dorset farms.

“The cost of rural crime has risen to £44.5m nationally in 2017 and organised criminals target farms and other rural businesses, making life very hard for rural victims.

“Where farmers have tried to challenge trespassers, whether stealing or poaching, they are met with threats and abuse or worse.

 

“Rural crimes can often be harder to detect compared to urban crimes where CCTV and witness evidence assists a prosecution case.

 

“Rural communities are assisting the police greatly in their use of technology, such as trail cameras, to capture more evidence of this kind.

 

“For anyone doubting the impact of poaching on our rural victims, please visit the National Farmers Union website and watch their videos of farmers talking about such rural crime.

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