Haystoun Estate gamekeeper fined for offence

Peregrine chick

According to an article written by an RSPB investigator and published in  Scottish Bird News by the Scottish Ornithological Society (see link below), in June 2003, RSPB investigators received a tip-off that a peregrine nest site with a history of suspected deliberate interference was likely to be attacked imminently. Shortly afterwards, a 41 year old gamekeeper from the Haystoun Estate, Peebles, was allegedly filmed clambering across to the nest, removing the single peregrine chick, putting it inside a sack and walking off. The police arrived within minutes but the peregrine chick was never found.

The keeper was charged but when the case came to court on 24 March 2004, after two hours of legal argument Sheriff Farrell ruled that the video footage was inadmissable evidence because the RSPB did not have permission to be on the land for the purpose of detecting an offence.

It seems more than a little bit strange that a member of the public can be barred from telling a court about a crime, just because the landowner had not given permission for that person to be there! Surely, it is in any landowner’s interest to have criminals apprehended and dealt with by the courts? All very strange.

The gamekeeper was ultimately fined £300 and had his firearms certificates revoked after police officers found a weapon and ammunition in his unattended Landrover at the time of the incident. http://www.the-soc.org.uk/docs/SBN80.pdf

The keeper later attempted to get his firearms certificates back: http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Gamekeeper-fined-300-seeks-gun.2567258.jp

7 thoughts on “Haystoun Estate gamekeeper fined for offence”

  1. I hope anyone reading the article re the Haystoun case will also take time to read the link to Scottish Bird News 80 [June 2006] which explains at lengtth that this decision, which is in no way legally binding, was contradicted by two other sheriff’s decision shortly after. This one is the “odd man out”.

    Despite this, it has been widely quoted and used by those in the Police, Civil Service, Government, Justiciary and all sections of the pro shooting and anti raptor lobby, to justify squeezing out any real help with prosecutions by both RSPB and Scottish SPCA. The reason for that is that both those organisations take a firm legitimate stance on conservation and welfare crime, whether committed by gamekeepers, landowners or any other type of criminal.

    The countryside mafia is alive and well in Scotland….

    1. I agree that we have a serious problem with the countryside mafia.

      My dear silver tabby half norwegian forest male cat ( 6kg; not even 1,5 years old) was shot on the 12th April at the bottom of my garden at 9pm ish with Haystoun gamekeepers apparently ‘lamping’ for foxes near the Cademuir Hills.

      My silver tabby could not have been mistaken as a fox! I heard a dog and then my cat crying out and I called out of the window -my lights still on but it was dark outside so I could not see. Then 2 shots followed shortly afterwards. My cat vanished.

      I called around x xxxxxxxx’x house and left my number to find out if they encountered my cat and perhaps shot him by mistake. I never have heard from him which made me even more suspicious.

      I called the police who confirmed that Hayston Estate gamekeepers were apprarently ‘lamping’ and my cat must have been shot as ‘a mistaken identity’.

      I am devastated about this and extremely grief stricken.

  2. My sympathies with your loss Katrina….all I can say is “dont get mad, get even”…and well done for posting your story on this site..

    If you have the courage, I would also suggest you put your story – factually – in the local press…you may well start a rolling ball.You wont be the only victim here.

    Throughout Scotland I have heard many times that keepers treat pet cats as “vermin”, shooting them on sight…and often well away from their precious pet pheasants and partridges. There have been one or two cases prosecuted but usually along the lines of, reckless discharge of a weapon.

    As you say there will be absolutely no question of this being a case of mistaken identity – the absolute rule in shooting is “if you dont know what it is, dont shoot”. While Im never reluctant to criticise the police – Ive seen my share of lazy, ignorant and occasionally downright corrupt ones – it is possible these ones didnt have the background knowledge to realise what actually goes on. It is also possible that they have been leant on by senior officers not to rock the boat where keepers and shooting estates are concerned.The more such cases are brought to their attention the more likely they are to do something….Again, well done for reporting this.

  3. its your own fault just kicking your cat out the house to kill any song bird or other poor animal it doesn’t kill for food but for fun. you wouldn’t let a dog run wild so why let a cat?

  4. Recently i have been told by the local game keeper” M****** doesn’t shoot but i do”! This is regarding my 1yr old very small cat,she is very little compared to the big crew hanging around . I live Nr Peebles in a small cottage. We were asked to keep our cat in for a wk or so until the pheasent chicks got bigger.We did,but i bumped into the Farmer who said it’e fine there is plenty to keep her amused and i don’t see her near the cow shed(home of chicks??). So i thought it’d be ok to let her out,WRONG! The game keeper approached my partner and basically said that the cottage should’ve not been let to cat owners and if she’s out she’s classed as ferral,though she wears her collar and very friendly. I then bumped into him while on a walk with my 4yr old nephew,the same day, and he said that “M****** doesn’t shoot but i do”,once i explained what M***** the farmer had said.
    Now to me that was a threat. My cat has been here for a yr and not a bit of bother,now i’m terrified to let her out, yet with 3 young children opening doors ect it is really hard. My cat does bring back the vole/mouse but always wears her collar with a bell…Surely it’s the gamekeepers reponsibility to ensue his livestock are in a secure pen? Instead of threatening to shoot a pet and all said in front of a 4yr old!!!

  5. I live in a small village on the North yorkshire moors. I have lived here for 35 years and have had over 20 cats,all rescued, and have never had any trouble until recently when the “sporting” estate was taken over by a wealthy businessman who employs several young “gamekeepers”. Two of my cats vanished over the last few months, and while asking around for possible sightings I discovered that about 15 pet cats have disappeared within an area of about a square mile in the last two years. As we are a very small community where everyone knows each other there is no way they can have all vanished without trace. We are right on the edge of a grouse moor, and while we have no proof, we all know what has happened to them. Local animal lovers are now going out with cameras every time they hear a shot.

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