A ROGUE has ended up with a whopping £1,723 penalty after being caught by an Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officer, aided by a member of the Angling Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Service.

Rod licence dodger Nigel Hilden was convicted at Hastings Magistrates’ Court of the offences, after being caught at top Kent venue Hawkhurst Fish Farm.

Hilden, 50, from Ashford, Kent, had pleaded not guilty to charges of unlicensed fishing and using threatening, abusive and insulting words towards an Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officer last June.

But following evidence given in court by a member of the Voluntary Bailiff Service, and an EA officer, Hilden was convicted.

The court heard how Hilden had been using four rods and was seen to reel in one of these by the EA officer.

Hilden did not have a licence for the fourth rod, and became abusive and threatening as the officer issued an offence report form.

At this point, the volunteer bailiff joined the officer and his presence decreased Hilden’s initial aggression.

The incident was further proof that Hilden was a rod licence dodger. Magistrates heard of Hilden’s previous 72 convictions, including a prosecution for unlicensed fishing in April 2019.

Ensure all rods are licensed

An EA spokesperson said: “Abusive and threatening behaviour towards our officers and volunteers working with us will not be tolerated.

“We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against anyone who attempts to intimidate officers or volunteers in this way.

“Anyone wishing to use four rods, where allowed, should ensure all are licensed.”

Dilip Sarkar is proud of the input of the volunteer bailiffs, who work with the EA and Police.

The rod licence dodger conviction pleased the Trust’s national enforcement manager Dilip Sarkar MBE. Under his leadership, the Voluntary Bailiff Service has made great strides.

Dilip said: “We are extremely proud of our Phase 2 volunteer bailiff, whose conduct in supporting the EA fisheries enforcement officer was exemplary, as was his performance in the witness box, which was recognised by the justices.

“This is evidence of the value and success of Phase 2, which we are pleased to see being extended into East Anglia, whilst further recruits will be trained in the South East.”

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