AN ABUSIVE rod licence dodger has been given one of the biggest financial penalties ever after unsuccessfully appealing his conviction.

Rod licence dodger George Holland failed to give his name and address when confronted by an Environment Agency enforcement officer and then used threatening behaviour.

He was caught fishing illegally at Izaak Walton Fishery in Staffordshire last summer. The quality venue is pictured above, where a legally licenced angler happily fishes.

The popular fishery is named after the ‘godfather of coarse angling’, Izaak Walton, who lived 1594-1683, and who was born in Stafford. He was best known for his massive selling book, The Compleat Angler.

Izaak Walton was the author of The Compleat Angler… centuries ahead of its time, and still well worth a read today.

Rod licence rogue Holland was finally fined £660, and ordered to pay costs of £1,129 and a victim surcharge of £66 after a second court appearance.

Holland, 51, who is based in Stone, Staffordshire, was originally called to court at North Staffordshire Justice Centre in April 2017 and was proved guilty in absence for four offences.

But the case was reopened under a statutory declaration application from the defendant where he pleaded not guilty.

Magistrates heard the case and again found Holland guilty in his absence of all four charges that included using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour causing that person to believe that imminent violence will be used against him.

Rod licence case reactions

Andrew Eardley of the EA said: “It’s good to see the courts taking instances of threatening behaviour against enforcement officers seriously and that offenders are prosecuted.

“Thankfully cases where an angler is threatening are very rare; most anglers found without a licence, while not happy, admit they have been caught out.”

Dilip Sarkar, of the Angling Trust, who is fisheries enforcement manager for the Voluntary Bailiff Service, said: “The size of this penalty is excellent news and will help to act as a warning to other anglers caught without a licence that threats and bad conduct will not be tolerated.

“It is good to see the courts now taking these matters very seriously – the practice of enforcement has moved on enormously in the past five years with more awareness in the public, the police, courts and anglers themselves.

“I have to admit that, despite being a life-long fisherman, I didn’t know when I retired from the police force six years ago that not having a licence was actually a criminal offence, but the message is now getting out there that there are serious consequences to not having one and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.

“We have just finished a series of six enforcement workshops, one in each region of the country, which has resulted in over 500 anglers going back to their clubs and fisheries with far more knowledge of all the issues involved,” he added.

The latest figures from the EA of prosecutions in England show that in July alone fines totalling £44,967 from 136 rod licence dodgers were issued.

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