Glen Orchy gamekeeper tries to change his plea

Here’s some insight into what is causing the delay in the sentencing of Tom McKellar in the Glen Orchy poison case. From yesterday’s Press & Journal:

An Argyll farmer is attempting to take back his plea of guilty to having a deadly poison which has been banned after being linked to the killing of birds of prey.

Tom McKellar, 50, of Fir Park Cottage, Auch Estate, Bridge of Orchy, originally pleaded guilty at Oban Sheriff Court to possessing the pesticide Carbofuran, a pesticide outlawed for more than 10 years, at his home in June 2009.

At a hearing in May his defence solicitor David McKie, in his plea in mitigation, said that his client did not realise the poison was Carbofuran.

Sheriff Douglas Small then queried if McKellar should be pleading guilty, and he continued the case for legal debate until yesterday [Wednesday 25 July 2012].

But when the case called yesterday McKellar had new legal representation in the form of solicitor Cameron Tait who sought permission from Sheriff Small to withdraw the guilty plea and replace it with a not guilty one.

This motion was “strenuously opposed” by fiscal Kate Fleming and a day-long legal debate took place.

Mr Tait said: “He advised police that he thought the poison was Wetex. He said he didn’t know what Carbofuran was. He had been supplied with it by the estate”.

Miss Fleming argued that this was not a defence. She said there was an absence of language such as “knowingly” possessing Carbofuran in the charge.

Sheriff Small adjourned the case until tomorrow [today, Friday 27 July 2012] to hear more legal arguments from the Crown and the defence.

It emerged at previous court hearings that police were investigating the death of a golden eagle in Glen Orchy in June 2009 when they obtained a search warrant for McKellar’s house. They found granules of Carbofuran in a game bag in his porch. Police also found the carcases of a sheep and a fox laced with Carbofuran.

Miss Fleming previously told the court that since 1988, there have been 240 fatal poisonings of wildlife by Carbofuran, mostly birds of prey.

The case resumes today. If the Sheriff accepts McKellar’s not guilty plea then presumably this case could go to trial at a later date.

For background information on this case, click on the ‘Glen Orchy’ tag at the top of this post.

Thank you to the contributor who sent us the Press & Journal clipping.

3 thoughts on “Glen Orchy gamekeeper tries to change his plea”

  1. Quote:
    Mr Tait said: “He advised police that he thought the poison was Wetex. He said he didn’t know what Carbofuran was. He had been supplied with it by the estate”.

    So, if he didn’t know he was using a banned poisonous substance should he even be working in his type of job. Also if the substance was supplied to him by the estate then doesn’t that make the estate owner responsible for keeping and supplying a banned substance, maybe the estate owner should be in court as well !!!

  2. You can see all the drug dealers watching the result of this, didnt know it was crack cocaine your honor, thought it was baking powder

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