The EA report:
Angler Shaun Brindle thought he’d found the perfect ruse after he was seen fishing on the River Avon during the closed season without a licence and using an illegal bait – he’d pretend to be someone else!
But Brindle, 28, had under-estimated the persistence and professionalism of an Environment Agency bailiff who brought the evasive angler to justice after exposing his false identity.
On 07 May 2011 Brindle was fishing from a boat with a friend near Keynsham when they were spotted by an Agency bailiff who told them to stop because it was the closed season.
They were asked to move the boat to a nearby mooring so the bailiff could talk to them properly. Brindle agreed and after packing up his fishing gear started the boat engine and headed upstream to moor by the lock gates of the Kennet and Avon Canal.
The bailiff walked up the opposite bank and arrived at the lock gates to discover the boat and two anglers had gone. It was later found moored near the Old Lock and Weir public house upstream of Hanham Lock. The bailiff noted the boat’s name, ’Jasmine Sea Otter’, and saw it contained several fishing rods, some tackle and an empty can of luncheon meat.
He told the owner of a nearby boat he intended to seize the Jasmine Sea Otter. The person said he could contact the anglers and agreed to pass the bailiff’s mobile phone number to them. Shaun Brindle later rang the bailiff, but refused to give his name. When told the owner of the boat could be traced through its British Waterways registration number, Brindle gave the boat owner’s name instead of his own.
Brindle confirmed he and the second man had been fishing and had valid rod licences. They had used luncheon meat and sweetcorn as baits and hadn’t realised it was the closed season. Luncheon meat is banned as a bait under a local fishing byelaw.
On 11 June 2011 Brindle was interviewed under caution. Once again he identified himself as the boat owner and signed a statement using that name. Two days later the bailiff was contacted by the real boat owner who apologised that his craft had been used for illegal fishing and said it would not happen again. He confirmed he was not the person the bailiff had seen fishing on 07 May and said he had allowed some friends to borrow his boat on that day.
“Providing false personal details to escape prosecution is a serious offence. The defendant was given every opportunity to give an honest account of his actions, but chose instead to assume a false identity in an attempt to pervert the course of justice.” said Chris Povey for the Environment Agency.
Appearing before Bristol Crown Court, Brindle, of Sunningdale Drive, Warmley, Bristol was given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 costs after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice. The case was heard on Monday 05 March.
Several rod anglers have been prosecuted by the Environment Agency for fishing on the River Avon during the closed season; they were caught during a crackdown by bailiffs who have been working closely with the local fishing association