Three men have been ordered to pay over £600 each for using lamps to take fish illegally from a beck in County Durham. 

Bradley Parkin, 20, of Chester Drive, Willington, Jonathan P Amos, 28, of Constantine Road, North Bitchburn and Marley Roles, 19, of Clement Way, Willington, were found guilty following a trial, and sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs totalling £626 during a case heard at Peterlee Magistrates Court on November 14.

As part of the same court proceedings, the men were acquitted of the use of prohibited instruments, namely gaffs, to take or kill fish.

The Northern Echo: The Environment Agency caught the three men using lights to poach fishThe Environment Agency caught the three men using lights to poach fish (Image: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY)

For the use of lamps to illegally take fish, which is contrary to the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act (1975), they were ordered to pay £600 as well as a victim surcharge of £26.

The court heard before midnight on October 18, 2022, fisheries enforcement officers from the Environmental Agency on patrol observed a group of men exit a vehicle and walk along a footpath that runs alongside Waskerley Beck in Wolsingham.

Shortly after, a bright light was seen being shone around the beck, leading to the officers calling for support from a senior fisheries enforcement officer and the police.

Using a powerful thermal imager and image-intensifying devices, the team observed the group shining two lights into the water and they were observed entering and exiting the beck.

Over an hour after the group had exited their car, at 12.30am on October 19, 2022, they were met by the enforcement officers and the police at the side of the beck.

The lights were seized and on Wednesday, December 22, 2022, all three defendants were invited to attend a voluntary interview under caution.

Only Amos accepted this invitation.

Recommended reading:

Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus digital subscription from as little as only £1.50 a week. Click here.

David Shears, Senior Fisheries Enforcement Officer at the Environment Agency, said: “These men have been rightly punished for the illegal activities they undertook last October, and we hope the penalty received will act as a deterrent to anyone who is thinking of breaking the laws and byelaws we have in place across England. 

“They were using prohibited instruments to attempt to take fish, and we are pleased that we managed to obtain this conviction for the use of lamps.

“Poaching of this nature can incur an unlimited fine and/or result in imprisonment for up to two years.  We monitor our waterways 24/7 to help protect them from cases of illegal activity and for those caught cheating the system, we will always consider prosecution.”