Two rabbit poachers caught with dogs, knives and spades on a farm have been fined.

Tommy Cannon, 24, and James Lawrence, 26, were caught by police at Park Farm, near Chessington World of Adventures, on March 13.

At Kingston Magistrates’ Court this Cannon, of Byland Close, Morden, and Lawrence, of Scawen Close, Carshalton, admitted the offence of poaching for rabbits under the Game Act 1831.

A more serious charge of interfering with badger setts and using dogs to hunt a wild animal under the Hunting Act 2000 was dropped by prosecutors.

Liz West, prosecuting, said the men were arrested after a man walking along Chalky Lane reported seeing a car parked on private land.

Officers arrested the pair after seeing them with three terriers, hunting knives, collars and spades and seized their dogs and equipment.

Cannon told police during his interview they were bushing, or chasing rabbits with dogs, which is legal as long as the landowner has given permission.

Clive Rees, defending, said: “They were given something of a third degree at the police station, probably quite rightly so, given that badger sett interference should be prosecuted.

“There was no evidence they did anything to badgers.

“They thought they were on public land. They thought at the time it was the law they could do that but they know that now.

“It’s not only the first time they have come forward for this, it will be the last.”

Magistrates fined each man £180, plus costs of £85 and a £15 victims’ surcharge, and issued an order to forfeit their equipment.

However, the three dogs, which Mr Rees said were family pets as well as hunting dogs, would be returned after being held by police for seven months.

Hayley Parkes, Kingston wildlife crime officer, said: “I think it is a good result and will hopefully deter others from committing offences against wildlife in the future.”