Scottish gamekeeper fined £2000 for killing buzzard

Billy Dick gamekeeper Newlands Estate - CopyA Scottish gamekeeper who was recently convicted of killing a buzzard has been sentenced this morning.

William (Billy) Dick, 25, was convicted on 4th August 2015 of illegally killing the buzzard on the Newlands Estate in Dumfriesshire (see here). Two witnesses, alerted to the scene by the sound of gunshot, had observed him throwing rocks at a buzzard which was flailing on the ground, and then they observed him repeatedly stamping on the bird. They observed Dick wrapping something inside a coat and placing it inside his vehicle and then driving away. The carcass was never recovered but a dead hare, feathers and a blood-stained rock were found at the scene. DNA evidence from the feathers confirmed they came from a buzzard.

At Dumfries Sheriff Court this morning the sheriff told Dick that he believed Dick had killed the buzzard “to further the interests of your employer“.

Dick was fined £1,500 for killing the buzzard and a further £500 for possession of the dead buzzard.

Dick’s firearms certificate had been revoked but we understand this is being appealed tomorrow.

So, a £2,000 fine for offences that merit a maximum £5,000 fine and/or a six month custodial sentence. Had Dick pleaded not guilty this fine would have been even smaller (a reward for an early plea). It’s about time the Scottish Government published its commissioned report on wildlife crime penalties, which is already nine months overdue.

Well done to the SSPCA and Police Scotland for an effective investigation and congratulations to Procurator Fiscal Kate Fleming for a successful prosecution. Particularly well done to the two witnesses who reported their observations and were prepared to testify in court.

There is an on-going vicarious liability case relating to this crime (see here) and it’ll be interesting to see what happens in light of the sheriff’s comments in court this morning.

When we blogged about Dick’s conviction in August we asked the SGA whether Dick was one of their members. They refused to answer at the time, saying it would be inappropriate to comment until the case had concluded. Well, now it has concluded so let’s ask them again.

Emails to SGA:

Dear SGA, Is/was convicted gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick one of your members?

We also asked Scottish Land & Estates whether the Newlands Estate was one of their members. They didn’t respond. Let’s ask them again:

Dear SLE, Is/was the Newlands Estate one of your members?

UPDATE 12.30hrs: COPFS press release here, with disturbing details of Dick’s actions.

UPDATE 13.30hrs: RSPB statement here

UPDATE 13.35hrs: BBC news article here, which indicates Dick may appeal his conviction. There’s also a quote from the SGA, once again refusing to comment on the membership status of Dick “until the legal process has concluded”. Why so coy?

UPDATE 18.50hrs: Turns out the Newlands Estate is a member of Scottish Land & Estates and the Wildlife Estates Scotland initiative – see here for blog post

31 thoughts on “Scottish gamekeeper fined £2000 for killing buzzard”

  1. Petty fine! His bosses will probably cover that as a bonus for his good services!

    Will the estate be charged now for vicarious liability?

    1. Exactly – and maybe he also killed the hare found at the scene. No creatures are safe when bloodthirsty fools are allowed to play with firearms.

  2. A few weeks in jail is all that these people will understand. Get this filth out of the countryside and away from our wildlife. Also, here is a reason why we should all be vigilant when walking the hills and particularly if we see a game keeper behaving suspiciously, as clearly not all can be trusted.

    1. Well said Project Raptor.
      Min.6 months inside for these continuing attempts to exterminate our indigenous birds of prey.
      Otherwise it will go on and on and on……………………

  3. Pathetic….should have been £20,000. Peanuts to him and his cronies, who are set to continue with their life of wildlife crime at this rate. This won’t cost him a penny, his rich landowner will see to that. And the mug shot above is a clear illustration for what this guy really is, and how well he was christened, though he’s a dangerous Dick in tweeds.

  4. The good news is that when we moved off the Newlands estate, a few months after this happened, I counted seven buzzards in the air. Let’s hope it stays that way.

    1. I’m sorry that you have had to move home.I hope it was not as a result of you and your friend being descent and good people coming forward as witnesses against Mr Dick and his actions.It seems a lot of people on this blog seem to be missing the fact if it had not been for your fearless actions then justice would not have been,to some extent,achieved.You and your friend are to be applauded.
      All the best for your future where ever that may be.Just wish there were more like you in our area.

      1. Aw thank you Me. [Ed: the following four sentences have been removed so as not to potentially jeopardise the on-going vicarious liability case]. Had we kept quiet only me my hubby and Dick would have ever known it happened at all and that would never do would it? Not really looking forward to the next step though. I can think of many things to do with the initials QC and they are not Queens Council. :)

  5. Interesting, and probably helpful, that the Police quote in the COPFS statement came from Helen Nisbet, of the Serious and Organised Crime Division. Is there a move towards applying Proceeds of Crime rules?

  6. The usual…except for the vicarious liability possibility..Im sure the sheriff didnt make that statement about the employer without an eye to the future…thats a sheriff worth watching.

  7. “Dick was convicted despite claiming he was on his way home from a training course, more than 100 miles away, at the time of the offence.”

    Surely it would be very easy to prove whether he attended said course: there’d be a record of his attendance, and the course leader (and other participants) could vouch for his attendance. Does anyone know any more details about the defendant’s alibi?

  8. The pork faced toss bucket ought to have rocks hurled at him and then repeatedly stamped on for the rest of his worthless existence. Why can’t these morons learn to live with nature, we have to share this world with the other creatures that roam its surface, we do not have the right to destroy, just because we feel like it.
    About time the judicial system was brought into line with reality so these meaningless fines that are being dished out, start to hit these A-holes where it hurts and not simply give them something to laugh at.

  9. Dick by name, Dick by nature, throwing rocks and repeatedly stamping on a Buzzard,what a disgusting excuse for a man he is. If anybody had any doubts of the hatred these people have for Birds of Prey,this case should convince you.

  10. What’s the point of abusing the individual convicted? He’s not the fundamental problem. The subject of a vicarious liability case, the estate, his employer, is the problem. Even if you handed the gamekeeper the maximim fine, nothing much would change if the estate wasn’t punished.

  11. This case would not have got off the ground had it not been for the efforts of the SSPCA and highlights the need for police and SSPCA working together to fight wildlife crimes. Well done to them both .

  12. I’ve known a few gamekeepers in my time, although only one or two are still on speaking terms, and I’ve also received a few threats in my time, including two death threats which I took fairly seriously. Not all of them are horrible people, but you really need to get to know them and their masters to have the slightest concept of how differently their culture regards all things ‘country sports’. In particular, I’d say most of them have a contemptuous disregard for birds of prey and predatory species in general, with the odd exception of the few individuals that are into ‘hawking’. I knew one gamekeeper, now deceased, who kept a Peregrine and a Goshawk, but he would happily kill any other raptor, apart from Peregrine or Goshawk! Unfortunately the vermin syndrome affects a very wide range of social types, and sadly some conservationists have become infected with the bug, like those of us who criticise gamekeepers but at the same time are keen to kill natural predators of ground nesting birds of prey, such as foxes. We have our excuses of course, like “they’re at an unnatural population level,” or that old chestnut stolen straight from the keepers’ mouths, “they’ve got no natural predators.” The point I’d like to make in response to some of the above comments is that it’s futile and a bit misguided to focus on abusing the individuals because they’ve got a comical name, or ugly features. I speak on behalf of ugly people everywhere! It’s their mental state that is truly ugly, and the problem is institutional; it’s neither the keeper nor their masters who are solely responsible for the culture that deems it acceptable to abuse raptors, it’s the whole bloody lot of them. We need to be careful we don’t become like them in any way.

    1. JS – The physical characteristics could be said to reflect the inner ugliness of the man and are therefore valid comments. Handsome is as handsome does. I don’t, however, necessarily agree with your last sentence – perhaps we do need to become more like them – hand wringing and condemnation seemingly have no effect and perhaps more assertive action is required, if they ignore the law of the land the opposition must also – one only has to look at the success rate of other public disorder campaigns as in the fox hunting debate……………….but perhaps the glens are too remote for that kind of action.
      Deafening silence from the SNP timeservers again I note – perhaps our illustrious “environment” minister is looking out her green wellies for her next bash with her friends.

    2. I agree, Jack Snipe – the man’s appearance is irrelevant.

      He and his like, and their employers, are totally unenlightened – and politicians of most parties have apparently been quite happy to leave them in this benighted state. With their lethal weapons.

      Off at a bit of a tangent, The Wirral News printed a letter in this week’s issue from Animal Aid against grouse shooting.

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