A MAN has been fined by a court for driving a 4x4 off road on Dartmoor.

Maverick Smith, 23, from Bere Ferrers, admitted two offences related to driving off road on the moor near Princetown.

The prosecution was brought by Dartmoor National Park Authority, its first for anything other than planning enforcement in 25 years.

Newton Abbot Magistrates’ Court heard today (Monday) that national park ranger Rob Steemson saw Mr Smith driving near Nun’s Cross Farm, south of Princetown, on October 1 last year.

Mr Steemson followed Mr Smith’s green Suzuki Jimny jeep down a track and onto moorland.

Tom Bradnock, prosecuting, said the jeep was causing damage to the soft ground on the moor.

Mr Steemson stopped Mr Smith, who was driving, and asked him if he had seen the sign stating that driving off road on the moor was not permitted.

Mr Smith said he had not. He told the ranger that driving off road was his hobby.

In court on Monday, he admitted one offence of causing criminal damage and another of driving a vehicle on open access land without lawful authority.

Ceylan Bayram, representing Mr Smith, said in mitigation: ‘Not all the damage up there was caused by him. He’s entitled to full credit for his guilty plea and his previous good character. He is a working man. I am going to ask you, in light of this, to consider going with a conditional discharge.’

Chair of the bench Barbara MacEachern said his fine would be reduced by £100 because of his guilty plea.

He was fined £200 for the criminal damage, with no further fine for the second offence, and ordered to pay £550 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge. This total of £780 was to be paid in monthly instalments of £100.

Mr Steemson, in court to hear the verdict, said afterwards: ‘We are pleased with the outcome in court today. We will continue to work closely with the police and others to catch other potential offenders. It is becoming an increasing problem with people off-roading illegally in their vehicles on the moor, attracting complaints from others and causing damage to the landscape.’