AN investigation into the suspected poisoning and shooting of red kites led to the discovery of breaches of regulations dealing with pesticides and firearms at a farm.
But it was accepted at Preston Crown Court yesterday there was no evidence 74-year-old Allan Armistead was in any way connected with the deaths of the birds.
The pensioner, who lives at Hulleter Farm in Oxen Park, Ulverston, was fined £7,000 and ordered to carry out 140 hours’ unpaid work.
He admitted seven offences in relation to pesticides, plus three other firearm-related offences.
The court heard a search warrant was executed at the farm last July.
Chemicals were found, most of which were unlawful to possess, due to regulations which had come in more than 10 years ago. Some of the pesticides were 60 years old.
Two rusting tins had a chemical capable of producing cyanide gas on contact with air or water. When one of them was open in safe lab conditions, some of that gas had already been produced.
Mr Brett Gerrity, prosecuting, said the finding of those tins had resulted in wildlife officers having to wear full face masks.
Other pesticides were also found. Among them was a bag containing bottles of crystallised hydrochloride strychnine. There was also a bottle of strychnine hydrochloride – a highly toxic poison used for controlling moles.
It was also found Armistead had his late father’s Home Guard rifle without authorisation, had more ammunition than he was allowed and had not disclosed he had at least three other guns. Mr Christopher Evans, defending, said the pensioner was genuinely remorseful. The chemicals had previously been legally held for many years before new regulations came in.
He said Armistead had lived at the farm since he was born. He had worked there all his life, following in his father’s footsteps, and works seven days a week.
His father’s old rifle had been kept for sentimental value.
Judge Graham Knowles QC cancelled the firearms certificate and shotgun licence that Armistead had held.
He told him: “You dealt with the guns and the ammunition and the pesticides as though the law didn’t apply to you, or didn’t matter.”
Armistead was also told to pay a total of £2,300 costs, plus a £15 surcharge.