Stody Estate mass poisoner gets…..10 week suspended sentence

allen-lambert-stody-estateGamekeeper Allen Lambert, convicted of mass raptor poisoning at Stody Estate, Norfolk, has been given a 10 week suspended sentence for poisoning 11 raptors (suspended for one year), a six week suspended sentence for possession of firearms and dead buzzards (suspended for one year) and has been ordered to pay £930 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

This sentence will infuriate many. Lambert’s crimes contributed to one of the worst incidents of mass raptor poisoning in the UK. Although it’s not the worst incident, it’s right up there near the top of the list and is certainly the worst mass poisoning of raptors uncovered in England.

District Judge Peter Veits said Lambert’s crimes ‘had crossed the custody threshold’ but that his sentence would be suspended. Why? Sentencing is supposed to serve two purposes. It’s supposed to be a deterrent, not only to the convicted criminal, but also to others who may be contemplating committing the same crime. It’s also supposed to provide a punishment to the perpetrator for having acted criminally.

Does a suspended jail sentence meet any of these aims? No, it certainly does not.

What a wasted opportunity for the judiciary to send out a clear message to those who continue to commit abhorrent wildlife crimes. It’s so rare to actually get a conviction for poisoning; usually it’s the much lesser charge of ‘possession’ of banned poisons [in Scotland] or ‘storage’ of illegal poisons [in England] but here’s a gamekeeper who has been found guilty of actually poisoning 11 protected raptors. Sure, the judge’s sentencing options are constrained within statutory boundaries but the sentence in this case is nowhere near as strong as it could have been. Some of Lambert’s crimes are offences under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. Under this legislation, the maximum sentence, calculated for EACH offence is a £5,000 fine and a six month custodial sentence. That’s just for poisoning 11 birds – in Lambert’s case there are numerous other offences to consider, including firearms offences which usually carry a custodial sentence.

A suspended custodial sentence and a less than £1000 ‘fine’ (prosecution costs) for what Lambert did is absurdly lenient. According to the RSPB, since 2001, four gamekeepers have received suspended custodial sentences for persecution offences. During the same period, 12 egg collectors have actually been jailed. The inconsistency in wildlife crime sentencing is remarkable.

In Scotland there is currently a wildlife crime penalty review underway, at the behest of Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse. There is an opportunity for you to participate, by filling in a questionnaire which seeks views on whether penalties for wildlife crime offences in Scotland are sufficient deterrent. The closing date is 21 November. Full details here.

So, Lambert’s pretty much got off scot free, but what of his (now former) employers, the Stody Estate? According to the BBC, ‘there is no evidence the estate owner, Charles MacNicol, knew about the poisonings. He wouldn’t tell BBC News whether he knew, or whether he condemned the killings’. Lambert was not sacked by Stody Estate, but instead was allowed to take early retirement, according to ITV news.

What we do know is the Stody Estate has received millions in agricultural subsidies over the years (see here), and as a result of blog readers’ efforts, the Rural Payments Agency is understood to be investigating to see whether financial penalties can be applied for cross-compliance offences (see here).

UPDATE 8/11/14: Here are the judge’s comments on Lambert’s sentencing:  DJ Peter Veits sentencing 6 Nov 2014

Media coverage of Lambert’s sentencing

RSPB press release here

BBC news here

BBC news video here

RSPB Investigations blog here

Daily Mail here

ITV news here

Norfolk Eastern Daily Press here

Telegraph here

Guardian here

Independent here

Norfolk Constabulary press statement here

Lambert 9 bz

44 thoughts on “Stody Estate mass poisoner gets…..10 week suspended sentence”

  1. The questions to ask now are..will he lose his firearms licence, will he be allowed to use a shotgun , will he be able to “use” any Open General Licences?…decisions which will be made in the offices of senior police officers and Natural England. That’s the only real punishment you can expect…and it will only be temporary if it happens. Watch the hypocrisy of the shooting lobby as you get both the “rotten apple in the barrel” and the “he was only trying to do his job” simultaneously!

  2. If this is the only punishment, then we might as well all give up & forget about saving any bird or animal the shooting lobby decides is surplus to requirements. Seems to give carte blanche for mass poisonings?

    1. Name and shame them to their own local community (Leaflets and posters) and let their neighbours know when they have committed a wildlife crime, particularly when it involves setting out poisons which could easily kill people as well as pets, livestock and wildlife. If they don’t get the punishments they should be getting by the courts then publicise their criminal and sickening activities around where they live. May make them think twice…may be.

    2. Yes, emotionally i agree we may as well give up which is precisely why we shouldn’t. We have to keep working in spite of the feeling that we seem to be getting no where. Every battle worth winning has, at some moment, been at this point.

  3. This is a disgrace and certainly makes it a small b in British Justice. The law is the law unless you are either working for or have friends amongst the shooting elite.

    Still we have a visual identity of the scum criminal and hopefully with his police record, should prospective employers enquire, easy employment will be more difficult to obtain.

    Keep up the work, news on BBC today.

  4. Just click on and read about the estate. The estate has actually been getting Government grants for all kinds of conservation work while their employee has been poisoning the wildlife. Drop a line to the estate and ask them a few questions.

  5. Protected by money.
    If they were not backed by rich worried landowners and couldn’t afford expensive defence paid for by estate owners then the outcome would be completely different. Really, what hope is there?

  6. Just emailed the Stody Estate:

    [Ed: Thanks Douglas but we can’t publish that here. There is no evidence that Stody Estate was directly implicated in Lambert’s crimes. The Rural Payments Agency is investigating to see whether there is evidence of negligence in their management of Lambert].


    I wonder if they will send a response?

  7. Outrageous, another complete let off. Nothing is going to change until a large and disruptive show of public contempt. Say no more, but I think it’s obvious !! Total ban on ALL driven shooting is needed. Far to much cronyism in a “supposedly” democratic nation. Raise your voices and be heard.

  8. Absolutely disgraceful non sentence. Criminals in the shooting/game keeping practices are obviously above the law, which many of us have known for a very long time.

  9. Following on the coat tails of the incidents at Holkham in 2011 this seems to make North Norfolk a hot spot for raptor persecution. This is particularly ironic when you consider the money spent to preserve other species in the area by Natural England. If Little Terns liked pheasant would they be treated in a similar way?

  10. Banana republic stuff. Hard for the UK to lecture other countries on such matters when such a mockery is made of protecting British wildlife. Can the sentence be appealed by the RSPB??

    1. There are requests flying around on Twitter for the CPS to consider a review of Lambert’s sentence.

      It’s hard to understand how this gamekeeper can lie his way through the trial (‘it wasn’t me, it was a dog-walker with a grudge’…..presumably that same imaginary dog walker also put the poison inside Lambert’s vehicle) and yet can still receive such leniency. The judge even acknowledged that Lambert’s crimes had ‘crossed the custody threshold’.

  11. The judge knew he couldn’t get away with doing nothing in a case such as this one, a widely publicised act of wanton wildlife persecuting criminality. He meted out what is probably the weakest sentence that he could get away with under the circumstances. Many who have followed this case from the beginning will look at the sentence, (if you can call it that) as nothing more than a whitewash instigated through the old boys act. What is unforgiveable, (and not for the first time) is the fact that he also let the creiminal get away with firearms and poisoning offences, the firearms offence alone should have automatically led to a nominal jail sentence.

    It seems their are 2 types of law in this country, one law is for them where they can get away with almost anything, and one law for the rest of us where we can get away with nothing. Anyone would be forgiven for thinking we are still under Queen Victorias reign !!!

  12. I suggest that everyone who is outraged by this use to contact their Member of Parliament and demand that this sentence be appealed as unduly lenient. Is there anyone familiar with that could start a petition on there?

    1. It won’t work. You are effectively complaining to the establishment about the establishment, and it will get you nowhere. You might get one or two fake socialists from the London Labour Party making boo and hiss noises in parliament, but we must remember that this very party were in power from 1997 to 2010, and did nothing whatsoever to combat raptor persecution. The vast majority of Labour Party MPs only concern is ensuring that the Westminster gravy train remains firmly on the tracks, especially the express section that runs from the House of Commons to the House of Lords. £300 per day attendance allowance for the House of Lords, just to sign, hang about for a few minutes, then sign out again. This House of Lords only sits for 130 days per year, but its a damn easy way to rake in £39,000 per year, almost 50% more than the average UK wage.

      The Conservative Party will be quite happy that raptor persecution exists, but they are perhaps a tad concerned that the killing sprees are being highlighted. Much better to keep it all under wraps, or perhaps campaign to keep those common bastards from the land.

      The LibDems are a total waste of space.

      Sadly, the only MPs that would consider taking this on, the SNP and Green Party, would be voted down by the red Tories and the traditional blue ones, with London Labour voting against the SNP because…..well, just to be against the SNP.

      In excess of 300,000 people signed the petition against the Badger cull, but the establishment ignored them all and chose to do what they wanted. An estimated 2 million people marched in London alone, against the Iraq War, but the establishment ignored them all and chose to do what they wanted.

      If only there was a way to get away from such a corrupt and dysfunctional regime!

  13. so the message this passes to other small-time wildlife criminals is don’t worry boys, carry on. I wonder what would happen if a child was lost to misplaced poisoned bait?

      1. If that’s the case then the judge should be totally ashamed of himself for allowing this criminal to get away with what is a very dangerous way to indiscriminately kill protected wildlife by the use of extremely toxic poisons in what amounts to be publicly accessible places. Smacks of similarities with the great Red Kite / Buzzard massacre of Conon Bridge and the Scottish police whitewash !!!

      2. Perhaps that could serve as a cue to inform the relative education minister that school children were being sent to an area where a lethal poisoner was at “work”.

        1. I wonder if the Stodie estate have done a risk assessment before allowing access to schoolchildren, do their insurers know [their gamekeeper used] poison indiscriminately ???

          [Ed: slight edit. It was their (now former) gamekeeper who used banned poison. No evidence to suggest the estate owners/managers knew or were involved].

          1. It’s hardly a secret that gamekeepers have been known to be in possession of banned poisons. Can Stody Estate show they took reasonable steps to train or advise their staff regarding this. Could this be a breach of health and safety ?

  14. Like many I am totally dumbfounded. I would like to know a little more about District Judge Peter Veits. And will he or, can he, be questioned over how he came by his decision on such a lenient sentence? The whole affair smacks of ‘behind-closed-doors’ wrong doing, and this should not be left to quietly go away.

  15. Reblogged this on Mark Goodwin Photography and commented:
    Many of my readers will no doubt recall the case of Mass Poisoner Gamekeeper Alan Lambert. This opting by ‘Raptor Persecution Scotland’ blog will surprise many. A totally unbelievable outcome to the case, presided over by district judge peter Veits.

  16. it is a fundamental principle of criminal law that sanctions for criminal offences should be dissuasive. Does this sentence deliver this principle – probably not. What can we do it about it – very little. The CPS cannot ask for a review of sentences passed for summary offences.

    Not many will look to the EU for support but perhaps more notice should be paid to the EU directive 2008/99/EC article 3 of which requires that sanctions imposed for specified environmental offences should be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Offences against wild birds are one of the specified environmental offences.

    Just wondering if anybody has lodged a complaint with the EU suggesting that the UK are failing to deliver on the requirements of 2008/99/EC. The consequences for the UK of being found to have failed to discharge it’s obligations are huge, fines of many thousands of pounds per day for every day that the UK continues to be in breach. I suspect that sentencing would become rather more severe if the UK were infracted.

    Where are the sentencing guidelines for such offences. Recently the sentencing council produced guidelines for the sentencing of environmental offences. For some reason they decided (in defiance of the EU definition) that offences against protected species were not environmental offences! When challenged they said they would consider producing an additional guideline for wildlife crime but – don’t hold your breath.

    Well done to those involved in the investigation of this matter, Norfolk Police, RSPB, the Crown Prosecution Service and anybody else who played their part.

  17. I know Allan Lambert from years ago and he was xxxxxxx xxxxxxx then, and disliked by the community in general. I have no reason to think he has changed. This was xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxx It always surprised me that he was allowed to own firearms. Thankfully we’re not all like that.

    [Ed: Thanks, but had to edit out libellous comments]

  18. Simply unbelievable, we are constantly informed there is a zero tolerance policy on anything concerning the misuse of firearms and ammunition, remember Sergeant Danny Nightingale’s case, a quick reminder
    Sergeant Danny Nightingale, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sentenced to 18 months in military detention by a court martial.
    He was charged with illegally possessing a 9mm Glock pistol which had been packed up and returned to him by colleagues after he had to leave Iraq in a hurry to help organise the funeral of two friends killed in action.
    The gun was a gift from Iraqi soldiers he had been helping to train in 2009 and he claimed he did not remember having it.
    Sgt Nightingale had been planning to fight the charge but pleaded guilty after being warned he faced a five-year sentence.
    The case sparked outrage, with Sgt Nightingale’s family, fellow soldiers and some politicians dubbing it a betrayal of a war hero.
    If my memory serves me right Danny Nightingale actually served some time and was only released due to the public outcry
    Compare this to this case and factor in the fact as already pointed out that school children were regularly wandering around Stody estate
    National Wildlife Crime Unit officer Alan Roberts said: “This case has been significant because of the number of birds of prey found poisoned which, together with the lax attitude to firearms security, has exposed an ingrained blasé attitude to lethal chemicals and weapons.

    Nightingale and his family have spent around £120,000 trying to clear his name.

    My bet is members of the syndicates that shoot at shody have all chipped in to pay his fine and costs and that Lambert is will still be working there unofficially, he doesn’t need a gun license to shoot on private land if he borrows someone else’s gun, the removal of his gun license only prevents him owning a gun, they’ll be toasting the judge this weekend

  19. Regarding the judge, it would appear that he’s not always that lenient.

    A Romanian immigrant jailed for stealing mobile phones.

    Two farm workers jailed for pig cruelty

    A drunk and disorderly man’s 18-month suspended sentence extended to two years

    Marriott Hotels fined £9000 and ordered to pay £13,996 costs for a health and safety issue

    A pitch-invading Liverpool fan banned from football matches for three years – for making a rude gesture!

    A man charged with stealing £4000 given an eight week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months

    1. Ah but Marco, as I said above Allan Lambert was/is a gamekeeper working for a large shooting estate, they are, of course, untouchable from normal justice.

  20. Stody estate claim that he was a trusted and loyal employee. those that know him and his history all agree that he should have been sacked years ago .Why was he never sacked? You also have to ask was he ever trained in anything?

  21. Question What does someone need to do to a protected bird go to jail?

    poison them?


    trap them?


    Shoot them?


    Steal their eggs


    Because they don’t have the landowners permission………………..

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