Gamekeeper’s acquittal upheld by appeal court

A Scottish gamekeeper whose trial collapsed earlier this year on a legal technicality has had his acquittal upheld by the Appeal Court.

Anstruther Peter Smith, a beat-keeper on Airlie Estate near Kirriemuir, Angus, was originally charged with several alleged wildlife crime offences after three buzzards were discovered in a crow cage trap at Wellbank Wood in March 2011. It had been argued that allegedly the trap didn’t meet the standards required under the General Licence. Two buzzards were immediately released but one was treated for several days before release for injuries believed to have been sustained by the buzzard’s attempts to escape from the trap.

The case went to trial at Forfar Sheriff Court in June 2012, where Smith’s defence agent argued that an SSPCA inspector’s evidence should be ruled inadmissable on the basis that the defendant’s interview was ‘unfair’. Sheriff Kevin Veal agreed and Smith was acquitted.

The Crown appealed this decision but an appeal committee (Lady Paton, Lady Smith and Lord Wheatley) recently upheld it and refused the appeal. The full details of the case and the decision can be read here.

An overview article in the Courier here.

An injured buzzard inside a crow cage trap

9 thoughts on “Gamekeeper’s acquittal upheld by appeal court”

  1. the gamekeeprs and estate owners are laughing into their expensive malt whiskies as yet again their pals in the court system pull through for them. The inherent bias isn’t even subtle any more. Logically, we could ask why we bother relying on them any more? You wouldn’t play poker with someone who has stacked the deck, so why continue thinking that the courts will do anything for us? The logical extension of that question is what is the alternative?

  2. “…the respondent’s defence counsel objected to the admissibility of the evidence of the interview on the basis that the interview was unfair at common law, as the respondent had not been told that he was suspected of any offence and that he might face criminal charges.”

    So, does that mean that every criminal in the land, when caught, can now claim their interview was ‘unfair’, and get away with any charge because he or she “did not know they were suspected of a criminal offence”?

    Corrupt beyond belief. Not that long ago, a recycling firm was fined £200,000 for illegally storing waste products in a manner that was “likely to cause pollution”. As far as I am concerned, the judgement issued to the recycling frim was correct, so why are we not seeing convictions for storing and using banned poisons that are “likely to cause death”? Why are we not seeing convictions for the widespread and illegal slaughter of many raptor species? Could it, perhaps, be another case when the class system approach is used when issuing sentences and fines?

    The story can be found here

    1. I totally agree. But dont take the landfill case as an examplar of quick and hard justice, the folk concerned have been crossing SEPA’s path since they were the Clyde River Protection Board. A record any keeper would be proud of….

      1. Yes, by all accounts, the company regularly flouted the law, just like many of the game estates. However, I just can’t see any game estate being fined so much.

  3. I did a quick google search on Lady Paton, Lady Smith and Lord Wheatley and as far as I can tell they don’t have any connections to shooting or estates, it was only a quick search so may not be very thorough.

  4. May as well give up what we do…. with this sort of behaviour… courts are clearly not fussed what these idiots do.

  5. “A Crow trap” that contained 3 Buzzards, maybe it should be called a Raptor trap, the BASC has recently threatened to expell anyone caught up in Raptor persecution, wonder what they,ll do in this instance, its obviusly a huge lose for an organisation with the word conservation in its title to lose the princely sum of £66 everytime one of its members gets caught and convicted of a wildlife crime! dont get discouraged though, they can only brush so much shit under the carpet before the doors stop opening

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