Rescue birds being cared for kicked and punched by their owner

A bird of prey sanctuary owner who was filmed kicking and punching birds of prey in his care has walked free from court. It’s a funny old world.

William MacKenzie at court
William MacKenzie at court 
William MacKenzie, who displayed his owls and hawks at events around Shropshire, was convicted of nine animal welfare charges after being secretly filmed battering birds of prey and scaring them with a petrol powered lawnmower.

Mackenzie was also found guilty of five offences of causing fear and distress by using the lawnmower next to the tethered birds. The 68 year old pensioner, who appeared on the BBC in 2009, talking about his devotion to animal welfare, was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison suspended for two years.Maxine Taplin, chairman of the bench at Shrewsbury Magistrates Court, told him: “There is clear evidence of suffering. It was bad practice to use a lawnmower in close proximity to the birds. They would have been caused fear and distress by these actions.”

MacKenzie was also given a lifetime ban from keeping any type of animal and ordered to wear an electronic tag for six months. He must also pay £500 in costs.The court heard on Wednesday that he kept 26 birds, including a snowy owl, African spotted eagle owl and a Harris hawk at his home in Heath Farm, Shrewsbury.During a two-year period horrified neighbours filmed him abusing and tormenting the birds which he kept on perches and in cramped cages in his back garden.

On one occasion he is filmed slapping a barn owl in the face before kicking it into the corner of the garden.

He was also filmed hitting and kicking an eagle owl and holding a barn owl by its wing before hurling it to the ground. Another clip shows MacKenzie using his lawnmower to scare the birds by revving it close to a stack of cages.Two barn owls are seen in distress and desperately flapping their wings as the mower’s blades come within inches of their perches.During the two-day trial MacKenzie denied mistreating the birds.He told magistrates: “These owls were like my family. I would never punch or kick these birds, I would rather punch or kick a human being to any animal.”

But prosecution witness Neil Forbes, a vet and avian medicine expert, said he had never seen a falconer behave in this manner to birds of prey. “In my opinion they are not just suffering physically but also suffering distress and anxiety,” he told the court. “This is physical aggression and damage to the bird.“Both barn owls are flying away from the noise and the proximity of the lawnmower. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the birds are worried.”After the verdict, RSPCA inspector Dave McCartney said: “His behaviour is exaggerated by the fact that he was running a rescue centre supposedly caring for sick and injured birds. For some birds there was no escape. They were tethered when they were hit.”

The RSPCA has seized the birds which comprise 19 owls, five hawks, a peregrine falcon and an American kestrel.

1 comment to Rescue birds being cared for kicked and punched by their owner

  • Albie Roberts

    You can’t call the sentence handed out to this poor excuse for a human being justice.
    I have kept Birds of Prey as a hobby for 18 years and I’m the Chairman of a small club here in Torbay Devon, we have members who would be only too glad to re home any of these birds that the RSPCA have taken into their care if need be.