In April 2010, we reported on the conviction of 26 year old gamekeeper Ben Walker, who was found guilty of 17 offences relating to the killing of protected species with poisonous baits on the Sufton Estate in Herefordshire in late 2009 (report here). During the police investigation into the alleged criminal activities on this sporting estate, it is reported that a poisoned buzzard was found in an outbuilding used by his boss, head gamekeeper Mark Rigby. As usual, it was not possible to ascertain who was responsible for the death of this bird – even though it might appear obvious. There are no reports of either keeper being charged for possession of the poisoned bird. However, a search of an adjacent outbuilding uncovered what has been described as ‘a large cannabis cultivation operation’. It seems it was not so difficult to establish the identity of the guilty party in this instance, because, according to the RSPB, at Worcester Crown Court on 24 November 2010 head gamekeeper Mark Rigby pleaded guilty to four counts of producing and possessing a Class B drug with intent to sell and he was imprisoned for two years.
The conviction of Rigby is reported in the latest issue of Legal Eagle, the RSPB’s investigations newsletter, here.