THREE men accused of illegal hunting on land near Selby have been found guilty of the offence.

Mark Tiffin, Ben Galsworthy and Neil Burlingham appeared at Selby Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday accused of hunting a wild mammal with a dog, and each received a conditional discharge.

North Yorkshire Police arrested all three in Gateforth, Selby, in January 2010, after a landowner and a member of the public reported seeing a maroon Range Rover and three men with dogs and shovels on private land.

Tiffin, 20, of Derwent Place, Knottingley, told the court he had travelled with Burlingham, 35, of Clifford, Wetherby, and Galsworthy, 32, also of Derwent Place, Knottingley, to Drax to look for rabbits, then to Hambleton Hough to “get rats out of mounds of muck”, before one of the dogs had run away.

District Judge Marie Mallon said: “The court can infer that the defendants were hunting for wild animals, but the prosecution do not have to suggest which animal they were hunting.”

She criticised a lack of cohesion in the defendants’ evidence.

Tiffin, currently serving a 12-month prison sentence for causing death by dangerous driving, received a two-year conditional discharge.

Galsworthy and Burlingham also received two-year conditional discharges, and were ordered to pay costs of £500 each.

Ms Mallon also told Galsworthy: “I was seriously considering forfeiture of your Range Rover, so you might consider yourself lucky that I am not.”