Scottish gamekeeper convicted of killing buzzard

Billy Dick gamekeeper Newlands Estate - CopyThe long-running case against Scottish gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick concluded today with a conviction for illegally killing a buzzard.

Dick, 25, of Whitehill Cottages, Kirkmahoe, Dumfries, had been observed by two witnesses on the Newlands Estate striking a buzzard with rocks and then repeatedly stamping on it, in April last year. The observers were alerted to the scene by the sound of a gun shot. Dick had denied the charges (in addition to two alleged firearms offences, which were subsequently dropped) but was convicted today at Dumfries Sheriff Court.

He will be sentenced in early September.

Well done to the SSPCA and Police Scotland for their investigation and to the Crown Office for a successful prosecution.

We understand that a vicarious liability prosecution will get underway at Dumfries Sheriff Court later this month.

The Newlands Estate offers driven partridge and driven pheasant shooting. This estate has previously donated to the GWCT’s Scottish Auction (see here – page 23).

While we wait for the sentencing hearing, here are some questions you might like to ask:

1. Is/was Dick a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association? Emails to:

2. Is Dick still employed on the Newlands Estate? Emails to:

3. Is the Newlands Estate a member of Scottish Land & Estates? They get a mention in the SLE’s 2013 newsletter (here – page 10). Emails to:

The photograph of Billy Dick was sourced from his Facebook page.

Previous blogs on this case here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here

35 thoughts on “Scottish gamekeeper convicted of killing buzzard”

  1. Well if you believe the Newlands Estate web site, SNH are partners in wildlife crime….. I wonder if they will get caught in any pursuit of vicarious liability?

  2. I do hope he goes to prison and is made an example of. In that Scotland will not tolerate wildlife crime. The Governments need to man up and take this seriously, it’s a threat to Scotland’s tourism industry and I shall be visiting the Cairngorms again in October and I would hope to see lots of birds of prey, if they haven’t been shot.

    1. They will not revoke his gun licence unless his employer sacks him first ! The police do not want to be the ones responsible for the keeper losing his job(apparently)

  3. Is that an official Gamekeepers uniform he is wearing? They all appear to dress the same. I agree, well done SSPCA, we should soon hear if they are getting their well deserved new powers. I take it that the two witnesses that observed him committing this crime were on private land, why is that different to filmed evidence taken on private land?

  4. We were the witnesses to this. From the moment we stumbled across him doing it, right through to the end of two long days at his trial, being treated like liars it has been an all round horrid experience. Yet a necessary one.

    1. Well done, Sally. I’m quite sure it would not have been a pleasant experience, so you have my utmost respect for standing up for what you believe in, and doing the right thing.

      1. thank you so very much sally and im sorry its been such a hard tme for you…but its obviously been well worth it so you can feel proud that youve helped potentially save the lives of other beautiful birds….hope they send him to prison and make an example of him to deter others

    2. Well, well done Sally. So sorry you both witnessed this, must have been shocking, thanks for not letting this go as many may have done. Real lovers of wildlife owe you both a big thank you.

    3. Excellent work sticking by your commitment, now let’s hope he gets the severe sentence he deserves to make your effort all worthwhile.

  5. Seems reasonable to suggest to the Lord Advocate, the Chief Constable for Scotland and COPFS that when someone who is privileged through the possession of a shotgun licence chooses to deliberately abuse that privilege in order to shoot and maim a protected bird (before stamping on it and dashing its brains out with a rock!) is not a fit or proper person to hold that licence.

    Use a legal firearm for illegal activity and lose your licence – it should be automatic!

    1. Bimbliing makes and exceptionally good case. It’s an absolute ‘no brainer’, “Use a legal firearm for illegal activity and lose your licence – it should be automatic.” Well said Bimbliing.

    2. “that when someone who is privileged through the possession of a shotgun licence chooses to deliberately abuse that privilege in order to shoot and maim a protected bird (before stamping on it and dashing its brains out with a rock!) is not a fit or proper person to hold that licence.”

      I would suggest that they are not a fit and proper person full stop.

  6. Yes big congrats to the SSPCA for their work, particularly when we all know just how difficult it is to get a case to court, even when the evidence is strong. As somebody here has already commented on, what on earth do they teach these people at game keepers collage?

  7. Yes indeed, well done SSPCA, and VERY well done Sally and your fellow witness. I am sure your experiences have been pretty gruesome, both in the field and in court, but I hope your success will temper things a little. Forgive me everybody if I don’t get too excited just yet over the forthcoming vicarious liability prosecution until we find out what happens and what sentence Dick gets. I do hope it won’t be a slapped wrist yet again! And thanks again RPS, I will certainly ask those pertinent questions.

  8. His ‘mugshot’ above reminds me of the Kray twins of an earlier era. Interesting that they shared a common interest in their cavalier use of firearms. Let’s hope that the Sheriff gets his act together and wipes that superior smirk off his face!

  9. Is there hope of incarceration after the sentencing of Mutch in January?

    Perhaps Scottish Land and Estates might like to lobby for it…their quote after Mutch’s sentencing…

    “The illegal killing of any bird of prey is unacceptable and anyone who engages in such activity can, rightly, expect to feel the full weight of the law.”

  10. Once again SSPCA proves they should be the body responsible for pursuing wildlife crime in Scotland, they seem to be the only ones who are consistently capable enough to produce a conviction.

  11. If this is one of the rare “bad apples” that the shooting set keeps assuring us is responsible for exceptionally rare crimes against protected species then they will surely be lobbying for an exemplary sentence to send the right message to other miscreants.

    Or maybe not. We’ll just have to wait and see……

  12. Well done to ALL involved but especially to SSPCA & the brave witnesses.I just hope the sentence sends the right message after what they went through. A slap on the wrist is no deterrent to these serial criminals.

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