A pensioner who killed the Scottish Parliament’s “guard” falcon has been ordered to pay to train a new one. Pigeon fancier Andrew Hutchison was found guilty before Christmas of shooting the bird with a .22 air rifle. But when he appeared for sentence at Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Wednesday, 67-year-old Hutchison claimed he killed it with a single blow when he threw a hammer at it as it attacked one of his racing doves. He then stuffed the feathered corpse into a bin bag and drove away with it.
Its transmitter, and one severed leg, was eventually found dumped four miles from the scene of the crime. The rest of the former official falcon, a peregrine/gyrfalcon cross called Naph, has never been found.
Naph, two, was one of 25 birds of prey used to prevent feral pigeons defecating on the MSPs’ building at Holyrood. He performed similar duties at Hampden Park, Scotland’s national football stadium.
Sheriff Craig McSherry fined Hutchison £350, and ordered him to pay £1500 compensation to Naph’s owners, NBC Bird and Pest Solutions at a rate of £150 a month.
At Hutchison’s trial, the court was told that Naph suddenly disappeared when he was caught by a gust of wind while being exercised on his Sunday off at a football complex at Torryburn, Fife.
He was last seen alive in a tree above Hutchison’s garden in Newmills, two hundred yards away. When his minders went to enquire what had happened to Naph, Hutchison said he had shot him.
Then he drove off with Naph’s body, leading the minders on the four mile pursuit before the bird’s transmitter, still attached to one of its legs, was found in a burn.
Hutchison, of from Newmills, was found guilty of maliciously shooting and killing a working falcon. He was also found guilty of removing the body of the bird from his garden, separating it from its radio transmitter, and dumping its body and the transmitter with intent to defeat the ends of justice.
Sentence was deferred for background reports.
When the reports were prepared, however, Hutchison told social workers he had not shot the bird but had killed it by throwing a hammer at it because it was “on the back” of one his pigeons.
Defence agent Stephen Morrison said his client had been repairing the roof of his pigeon loft when he spotted the falcon attacking his dove and threw the hammer at it “in a sideways motion, not to hit it but just to scare it”.
Sheriff McSherry expressed anger at Hutchison’s testimony.
He said: “At the trial he gave evidence saying he didn’t know anything about this falcon and he didn’t kill it. He lied to me on oath.”
NBC Bird and Pest Solutions said it had cost the company £3500 to buy and train Naph, but Mr Morrison said his researches suggested a bird could be bought and trained for a little as £750.
He added that Hutchison had kept pigeons since he was 10 years old and had raced them all over Britain and Europe.
Outside court Hutchison, a widower, appeared unrepentant.
He said: “That hawk tried to get away with murder. My big mistake was lying about it. I should never have tried to hide it. I’m a pensioner. The fine and compensation is going to cripple me.”