TWO South Wales men caught poaching in the Cotswolds during a hare-coursing alert were fined when they appeared in court in Gloucestershire today.

Saley Price, 25, of Heol Pentwyn, Caerphilly, South Glamorgan, and Joseph Smith, 21, of Cwm Crachen, Nant-y-glo, Gwent, each admitted daytime trespass in pursuit of poaching gamebirds, contrary to the 1831 Game Act, on April 30 this year.

Stroud Magistrates Court was told that Smith had appeared in court on a charge of night-time poaching less than a month before the latest offence was committed.

They were arrested in Great Barrington, near Stow on the Wold, Glos, on April 30 after officers received calls from a farmer concerned that the pair’s dogs were worrying his pregnant sheep and a gamekeeper feared they might be hare coursing.

Theresa Perry, prosecuting, said police found an unattended white VW Golf in a lane in Great Barrington. Price and Smith appeared with two lurcher-type dogs. They said they had been hunting rabbits at the side of the road.

She said the gamekeeper of the Barrington estate had earlier called police over his fears that two men with dogs were hare coursing in fields near the village.

A farmer had also told police his worries over the safety of his sheep, Ms Perry said.

The pair were arrested and when interviewed by police the following day, Price made no comment and Smith repeated his claim they had been hunting for rabbits at the roadside.

The court was told that Smith had a previous conviction for night-time trespass in pursuit of poaching after appearing at court in Hereford on April 1 this year.

Neither defendant was legally represented in court and Price said nothing other than to enter his guilty plea and confirm his name, age and address.

Smith said the pair had been visiting relatives in Gloucestershire and they had been looking for rabbits. He thought they were on the roadside and did not realise they were in the field.

District Judge Joti Bopa-Rai fined both men for the offence. She gave Price credit for his guilty plea and fined him £50 and ordered him to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £42.50 prosecution costs.

The judge gave Smith credit for his plea, but fined him £75 as he had appeared in court for a similar offence on April 1. He was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £42.50 prosecution costs.

After the men had been charged earlier this year, rural and environmental crime officer for Gloucestershire police, PC Jon Palfrey, said: "This is a prime example of how the local community and Gloucestershire police can and do work together to tackle rural crime."