Finding a rabbit

Hertfordshire Mercury, 2nd January 1915


At the Ware Petty Sessions last week, Samuel Boswell, of Hunsdon, labourer, was charged with game trespass in the day time in search of conies on the land of Mr A H James. Defendant pleaded not guilty. Charles Pegram, of Hunsdon, gamekeeper to Mr James, said that at seven o’clock in the morning of December 8 he saw defendant walking along a footpath that ran through a field belonging to Mr James.

Defendant, who was accompanied by another man, stepped off the path, and walking about twelve yards into the field stooped down and picking up a snare took therefrom a rabbit.  He then re-joined his companion and they resumed their way.  Witness called after them, but they took no notice until he was a few yards behind, when they stopped.  At his request, Boswell handed over the rabbit and witness said ‘Do not come here again’! Defendant did not pocket the rabbit when picking it up but carried it in front of him with both hands.  It was dead, and not warm.  Witness had set the snare the previous night, and it was one of several.  As it lay the rabbit would be clearly visible from the footpath.  Defendant said the rabbit was lying about five yards from the path.  He picked it up, but acted quite innocently in the matter.

William Marsh, of Hunsdon, labourer, Boswell’s companion, said they were going to work when they noticed something shining white like a piece of paper.  Boswell walked to it and picked it up, and had he not done so witness himself would have picked up the rabbit.  He had no idea he would have been wrong in so doing.  Pegram, recalled, said the snare was set in the open park, but between a thorn bush and a hedge.  He was quite sure it was twelve yards from the path.  Witness was not walking on the path when he saw the men, but in the park a short distance away.

Having retired, the Chairman said the Bench considered an offence had been committed, but the defendant would be very lightly treated.  He must realize that he had no right to leave the footpath.  It was evident that he did not deliberately search for the rabbit, and he need only pay the costs, 7s. 6d. The Bench did not approve of snares being set in the open near a footpath, as under the circumstances the temptation to a passer-by to take a rabbit would be very strong.  Defendant was given nine days to find the money.

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