Retired Yorkshire gamekeeper found guilty of storing 5 banned poisoned sentenced to conditional discharge and £15 victim surcharge.

Poison is one of the most cruel forms of controlling wildlife, a method used by gamekeepers since Victorian times to rid estates of many forms of animals and birds considered as vermin. As such because of the illegal use of poison to kill Golden Eagles, Buzzards, Red Kites, Peregrines, White-tailed Eagles, together with a multitude of other forms of fauna, protected or otherwise, in our countryside, you would aspect  a court to hand down a heavy sentence on any individual caught storing a banned poison within his own home. How do you think a court would react therefore when a gamekeeper was caught red handed storing not just a single banned poison, but 5 different poisons, enough to kill hundreds of animals and birds in one go.

Following the successful prosecution of retired head gamekeeper Derek Sanderson, who until recently had been employed by a shooting syndicate on the Sledmere estate in Yorkshire, the penalty handed down by the court yesterday will not only surprise you, it was astonishing because of it’s obscene leniency.  The poisons found at Sanderson home and in an unlocked outbuilding were Carbofuran, Aldicarb, Mevinphos, Strychnine and Alphachloralose; so many poisons it makes one wonder was Sanderson passing these substances to others to use in the control of so called vermin on estates where they worked?

The court gave Sanderson a penalty equivalent to his winning the lottery in view of the serious nature of the offences he had committed. A conditional discharge and a £15 victim surcharge. In summing up magistrates accepted  there was no causal link between the possession of the five poisons discovered by police at Sanderson’s home and a dead buzzard found on Sledmere Estate in 2012 – which had been poisoned with Aldicarb.

Bob Elliot, Head of RSPB Investigations, has written a piece about the case which you can digest here. When you consider any bird watcher found guilty of disturbing a wild Schedule 1 bird at a nest containing eggs or unfledged young, would almost certainly have been fined at least £1000 plus cost, and possibly even give community service on top. The difference in Sanderson’s case he had an association with shooting which appears to conjurer up the sympathy vote with many courts these days.

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