Vicarious liability prosecution: Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate) part 3

scales-of-justiceCriminal proceedings continued yesterday against Andrew Walter Bryce Duncan, who is alleged to be vicariously liable for the crimes committed by gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick in April 2014.

Gamekeeper Dick was convicted in August 2015 of killing a buzzard on the Newlands Estate, Dumfriesshire by striking it with rocks and repeatedly stamping on it (see here). Dick was sentenced in September 2015 and was given a £2000 fine (see here), although we understand he may be appealing his conviction.

Proceedings against Andrew Duncan, 71, who is believed to be responsible for the pheasant shoot on Newlands Estate, began in August 2015 and a provisional trial date was set for 23rd November 2015 (see here). However, at an intermediate diet hearing in October, the November trial date was dumped and a notional diet hearing was set for 18th January 2016 (see here).

A notional diet hearing is where an actual trial date may be set.

However, at yesterday’s hearing proceedings were adjourned again for another notional diet and a debate, to take place on 11th March 2016.

Vicarious liability in relation to the persecution of raptors in Scotland (where one person may potentially be legally responsible for the criminal actions of another person working under their supervision) came in to force four years ago, on 1st January 2012. To date there have been two successful convictions: one in December 2014 (see here) and one in December 2015 (see here).  One further case did not reach the prosecution stage due, we believe, to the difficulties associated with identifying the management structure on the estate where the crimes were committed (see here).

12 thoughts on “Vicarious liability prosecution: Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate) part 3”

  1. Hope they trow the key away or throw the book at him.

    [Ed: It might be an idea to wait and see whether the court finds him guilty first. At the moment, the charges against him are only alleged]

    1. Good question, Dave.

      According to the legislation, a VL prosecution can still go ahead regardless of whether somebody has been convicted for committing the original offence. As long as the prosecution can demonstrate that (a) the original offence occurred and (b) there is a hierarchical relationship between the person who committed the original offence and the person accused in the VL prosecution.

      But we did hear late last year that the case against Andrew Duncan was on hold until the gamekeeper’s appeal had been heard.

      So, to answer your question – we don’t know!

  2. If they go on any more diets they’ll starve to death, they’re just having a laugh at us and the so-called justice system is backing them all the way.

    1. The number of adjournments in summary criminal cases has long been an issue of concern, not just with wildlife crime prosecutions but right across the board with all summary criminal offences dealt with in the Scottish sheriff courts.

      An academic review published in 2001 explains the typical causes of delay – some avoidable, some not. Well worth a read:

      Click to access 0042074.pdf

  3. All the usual delay tactics we have come to expect.

    Is there not a possibility that the case will become (time barred)?

    1. As noted above it’s very common for cases to be adjourned several times, the criminal justice system is just as under-resourced as the rest of the public service. Sometimes it is a delaying technique, but it’s not always a defence motion, it can be a Crown motion, or sometimes there is just no time to deal with the case. There is also a considerable amount of civil cases (often the same sheriffs would deal with these).

  4. Sorry no rotten fish or conspiracies here, just a criminal justice system that is very inefficient and creaking at the seams.

    That said hope the sheriff is not a shooting man……

  5. interesting looking back at the other vicarious liability cases and remembering the Kildrummy case where the police couldn’t find the owners because they are based in the channel Islands which are apparently not part of the EU, Had Kildrummy Estate been owned by a company registered in the EU, the Directors of that company could easily be identified and could have been charged with vicarious liability.
    just a few questions, It would be interesting to know if this company receives EU agricultural subsidies and if so should it still receive these grants?, has any general license restrictions been placed on this estate?, does this company pay UK tax?, how many other estates are managed by non EU companies the same as Kildrummy

    1. Unfortunately there won’t be any general licence restriction placed on Kildrummy Estate because these crimes took place in Aug/Sept 2012. GL restrictions can only be invoked for crimes that have occurred since 1st January 2014.

      There are quite a number of estates managed/owned by non-EU companies – check out Andy Wightman’s blog for details and how land reformers are trying to get this addressed in the Land Reform Bill:

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