A VETERAN day ticket lake owner who was assaulted by a group of fish rustlers have warned other venues and anglers to be aware of the men they faced.
MaybrandsÂ Fishery boss Nick Devlin, 72, andÂ sonÂ Gary, confronted the seven Romanian men when theyÂ were tipped off by another angler, andÂ discoveredÂ six dead carp in a plastic bag.
PoliceÂ responded quickly to the incident atÂ Maybrands,Â in Stapleford Abbotts, Essex, but not before 42-year-old Gary suffered a black eye and a cut chin.
The case was covered by some of the national media, but Nick told Anglerâs Mail the full story. And he revealed why it’s important for everyone to be vigilant, especially in his area.
Nick explained: âWe were contacted by a female angler who was fishing near theÂ groupÂ with a friend,Â saying she had seen a carp being bashed on the head on the metal grill of a fishing platform.
âMe and GaryÂ quicklyÂ went to investigate and found theÂ group with aÂ bag containing six carpÂ covered in bloodÂ with their heads bashed in,Â so called the Police.
âWe have electronic gates at the fishery so we kept them locked so the culprits couldnât leave.Â When they realisedÂ thisÂ they turned nasty and set upon us, attacking Gary particularly badly.
âThe Police arrived and searched their belongings and found six more dead carp in another bag.
âAt least two of the anglers were in fact regularsÂ hereÂ and all had bought day tickets but they clearly state that all fish must be returned alive to the lake after capture.
âWhen confronted they treated it all as a bit of a joke and were very rude and disrespectful to both us and the Police.
âThe Police wereÂ unsure whether they could arrest the men for theft as the fish hadnât left the siteÂ but they might be guilty of criminal damage.
âThey suggested the theft matter could be resolved byÂ agreeingÂ compensation and there was an offer of one of their old carsÂ but it was only worth about Â£500 which is nowhere near theÂ valueÂ of the fish.
âThe PoliceÂ were originallyÂ going to arrest the seven but let them go after taking names and addresses because there was not enough room at the station to hold them.
âThe local Environment Agency bailiff has also become involved and discovered that none of the group had rod licences so they are also likely to be prosecuted for that.
âSince the incident we have discovered the assault was caught on our security camerasÂ and shows Gary being attacked by all seven.”
Maybrands man links case to others
Nick revealed: âWe are also led to believe the group have been doing this elsewhere, including the Lea Valley and Wanstead Flats and we want to warn all other fisheries in the area to be on the look-out for them.
âI started the fishery 35 years ago when I bought some derelict land and had four lakes dug outÂ which IÂ stockedÂ withÂ 10,000 fish.
âThe only time anything like this happened before was five years ago when I caught a Romanian trying to remove a couple of live fish, but we agreedÂ compensation.
âIn future Iâm going to be extra vigilant with Eastern European anglers and make sure they have no bags on them in which they could hide fish,â concluded the Maybrands Fishery man.
A statement from Essex Police said:Â âWeÂ were contacted following reports of the theft and destruction of a number of fish from a property inÂ BournebridgeÂ Lane, Stapleford Abbotts.
âOfficers attended and found a number of dead fish. They also received two further reports of assault in relation to the incident.
âA number of suspects were present when officers arrived. Officers sought to resolve the matter through a community resolution after the victim made clear he would be satisfied if he was reimbursed for the cost of the dead and damaged fish.
âUnfortunately all parties could not reach a formal agreement so the matter could not be concluded in this way.
âWe are in the process of speaking to the suspects, who need to be interviewed to account for their involvement in the incident.
âAs the matter could not be resolved at the scene between all parties, our investigation into the matters of theft and assault are continuing.”
Romanian anglers caught in Staffordshire
Meanwhile, in a case similar to what happened at Maybrands, two Romanian anglers were also caught trying to steal fish from Carney Pools in Stafford,Â Staffordshire.
They were spotted throwing carp up to 10 lb into the undergrowth to die in black bags but fortunately this was noticed in time for the fish to beÂ foundÂ andÂ returnedÂ alive to the water.
The Police were informed and proceedings are being considered.
The Angling Trust, with their Building Bridges project, are tackling problems of poaching by Eastern European people in this country. Find out more about their education work HERE.
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