Scottish Courts: Sentencing wildlife criminals a complete shambles..

This Guardian story below is now over 4 years old, however it highlights the inconsistencies and shambles in Scottish Courts when sentencing wildlife criminals today. In 2015 George Mutch gamekeeper was sentenced to 4 months in prison by Aberdeen Sheriff Court after being found guilty of 4 charges, including setting stares hitting a goshawk over the head in 2012. Read about the case HERE.

Sheriff Noel McPartlin hearing the case against Mutch said “the persecution of wild birds was a huge problem”.

He said: “Having regard to the gravity of the offence, I am of the view that there is no other method of dealing with you which is appropriate to this case other than the imposition of a custodial sentence.”

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Alan Wilson outside court last week

Now compare the sentence handed down to George Mutch with the more recent successful prosecution of Alan Wilson, 61, of Duns, who admitted to nine charges including killing goshawks, buzzards, badgers and an otter. Other charges against Wilson involved the setting of illegal snares and possessing illegal pesticides. In addition the court was shown records where Wilson kept ‘kill lists’ of 1000 animals he’d slaughtered and then dumped the bodies in stink pit.

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Goshawk image courtesy of Sam Hobson

Wilson was ordered to carry out 225 hours unpaid work and given a restriction of liberty order. Wow!

An undercover Scottish SPCA investigator described what Wilson had done as a “despicable case of serious and systematic crimes to indiscriminately remove wildlife from an estate”. “The sheer volume of dead wildlife discovered is truly shocking,” the investigator added.

We understand the Scottish Gamekeepers Association have now expelled Wilson from his SGA membership. That’s great, but what does this sentence signify? It’s certainly was no deterrent, indeed the leniency of the sentence invites others of the same ilk as Wilson to carry on their killing and take the ‘punishment.’

Because of the huge scale of killing taking place on this single estate carried out by one man, someone on the estate must have seen the evidence lying around the estate grounds uncovered by investigators. We would like to think the police are at least investigating the possibility of  prosecuting the estate owner under the Vicarious Liability legislation for what was taking place for all to see?

There are now calls for stricter penalties for wildlife crimes as Scottish gamekeeper avoids jail after killing protected birds. You can read the Revive Coalition article HERE



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