Has this convicted gamekeeper had his shotgun/firearms certs revoked yet?

You’ll remember Timothy Cowin. He’s the gamekeeper who was convicted this summer for the illegal killing of two short-eared owls on the Whernside Estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (see here).

Cowin’s criminal activities were captured on camera by the RSPB Investigations Team, whose extraordinary footage also included a chase across the moor, his dramatic arrest, and then the meticulous police search to find the corpses of the owls (they’d been shot and stamped on before one was hidden in a drystone wall and the other stamped in to the peat).

One of our blog readers sent us this screengrab from Facebook earlier this week, showing Cowin’s Bonfire Night effigies, including one that appears to represent an RSPB Investigator and another one revealing some racist xenophobic tendencies judging by the text on the guy’s t-shirt. Note the comment made by Mr Cowin to the right of the photo:

We’re wondering whether Cumbria Constabulary has revoked Mr Cowin’s shotgun and firearms certificates yet? And if not, why not? Somebody already convicted of a sadistic violent crime against two defenceless owls, showing no sign of remorse, is hardly someone of ‘sound mind and temperate habits’.

If you read the Home Office guidelines on how the police should assess the suitability of a person to be entrusted with a firearm, it seems pretty clear: Guide-on-Firearms-Licensing-Law-2012-13-Suitability

It’s even clearer when you look at this infographic produced by Firearms UK, an organisation dedicated to promoting and protecting firearms ownership:

We haven’t heard whether Cumbria Constabulary has made a decision on Mr Cowin’s suitability to own shotgun and firearms certificates but we’ll certainly be asking them about it….

23 thoughts on “Has this convicted gamekeeper had his shotgun/firearms certs revoked yet?”

  1. The crime itself, particularly his intemperate and sadistic behaviour in stamping on the birds after he had shot them, ought to have been sufficient evidence for withdrawal of his permit. The latest behaviour, which clearly flies in the face of the criteria set out by Firearms UK, should leave the situation beyond any doubt. I hope that Cumbria police are monitoring the case.

  2. I’d better not write what I want to write. It’s within the realm of something I’d like to do if I was diagnosed with a terminal illness…

  3. Let’s see what the police will do.

    He has to be considered a fit and proper person to hold a fire arm shot gun certificate.

    1. Revocation of shot gun certificates.
      (1)A shot gun certificate may be revoked by the chief officer of police for the area in which the holder resides if he is satisfied that the holder is prohibited by this Act from possessing a shot gun or cannot be permitted to possess a shot gun without danger to the public safety or to the peace.
      (2)A person aggrieved by the revocation of a shot gun certificate may in accordance with section 44 of this Act appeal against the revocation.

      Possibly the problem lies in the right of the certificate holder to challenge the police action in the Crown court. That means a lot of hassle (time and cost) for the police since they will require to justify their action.
      Like a lot of legislation it is great in theory, but does not reflect common sense.
      No reasonable person would want that guy to get anywhere near a weapon of any sort.

  4. There must be a significant element of risk in approaching an armed criminal, caught in the act, as the RSPB man did here. The fact that raptor persecution is usually armed crime seems to have no bearing on sentencing, never mind shotgun licensing. Where else would armed criminals get that kind of indulgence ?

  5. Some years ago a gamekeeper was warned three times by the police for stopping, harrassing, verbally abusing me and, one one occasion, physically assaulting me.
    What happened?
    He moved, or was moved, to an estate owned and managed by the National Trust Scotland where he is now Head Keeper.
    I understand this as hegemony at work between different Government authorities conducted by the Factor of the original estate who also holds positions on Government bodies.
    Any other individual who has a firearms certificate would immediately have had it withdrawn had the police found reason to warn him for offences of this nature. What did this gamekeeper receive? Moved to an NTS estate and promoted a couple of years later.
    Yes, this is what we are up against.

  6. I wish I could be shocked by that, but I’ve come to think of it as pretty much the standard you’ll get within this sector.

  7. Its a long time since I had any sort of meaningful conversation with a grouse keeper (Can’t think why!) when I used to they, in most cases, came across as self righteous xenophobes. It seems Cowin is following that tradition. He should certainly loose firearms and shotgun certificates if this has not already happened.
    When I was a young teenager with my younger brother we were wont to wander all sorts of places we technically shouldn’t have. On one occasion We were accosted on a public right of way by a tweed clad moron accusing us of poaching. When we refused impolitely to tell him who we were he raised his shotgun pointing it straight at us. We just walked off telling him to F off. We told our parents who called the police but essentially the police didn’t believe us and said we were probably trespassing.

    1. I didn’t quote it again as I’ve already done so on several previous occasions and I’m starting to feel a repetitive old duffer, but since you’ve raised xenophobia the worst comment I’ve seen from the shooting community is ‘at least those Syrian refugees would be good for target practice down the rifle range.’ They also like to make out those campaigning against them are on benefits and thereby layabouts. The idea that these are a bunch of inherently inferior people with a sense of their own inadequacy and want to run down others to compensate is hard to avoid. Inevitably there are some particularly persistent and nasty trolls on Chris Packham FB page and one of their key lines of attack is that all his supporters are being duped by an egotistical money grabbing opportunist (who actually pays for campaigning and media projects out of his own pocket). It transpires that these same trolls are often big supporters of Donald Trump! Guns and being mentally balanced seem to be mutually exclusive most of the time, we don’t have the NRA in this country, but the same mentality definitely exists. If the general public had more of the insight into what a lot of the shooting community are really like that we have I’m sure they’d be seriously alarmed.

      1. I agree completely with Les Wallace about the general character and cultural attitudes of the majority of gamekeepers I’ve known during my life. I must admit to having known a grand total of two gamekeepers who seemed to be honest and ethical, but confidence in my own judgement went downhill when a third individual, who initially had convinced me otherwise, turned out to have simply been a very good liar and actor. At some point, many years ago now, I began to realise the community within which most gamekeepers associated contained a fair percentage with criminal tendencies. Some of the worst, perhaps partly because they were so poorly paid by their employers, could be described as semi-professional criminals, who earned much more money in their ‘extra-mural’ life than they did as gamekeepers. These included some heavy gang-related types who indulged in drug dealing and other serious criminality. A small minority of those associated closely with gamekeepers (and hunters in general) were even involved in gun crime, including murder. Several ended up in prison for such offences, to be fair none of whom I knew were actually employed as gamekeepers. But they did regard themselves as being ‘businessmen’ (i.e. professional criminals) who earned their main subsistence through the criminal element of their lives. Unfortunately I can’t go any further than that, and any evidence I was to provide to the police would almost certainly be inadmissible, rumour or innuendo. Most of my knowledge was gained over twenty years ago, and most of the individuals I knew then are dead or gone. However, judging by what I read, here and elsewhere, suggests that the new breed of ‘keepers hasn’t changed significantly over the years. I can’t state with any degree of certainty that my local gamekeepers were or are typical of their peers nationwide. No doubt their professional bodies would insist that I am either mistaken or insane, with their usual “few bad eggs” absolution.

  8. I fail to understand how anyone convicted of offences involving illegal use of guns is not de facto deemed unfit to hold a gun licence.
    The FB effigies should be followed up by the police. Have they been reported?

    1. I, likewise, fail to understand this. You commit a crime with a licenced gun. Confiscating the gun and removing the licence should be a given. Again one law for the shooting lobby and another for everyone else. Look at the penalty given to Lamar recently for being in possession of an unlicensed peregrine. Banned from keeping registerable birds of prey as a standard part of the penalty.

  9. I grew up in Norfolk where everyone and his dog seems to possess a gun. Is the Law telling me that this many people are sound of mind. Get the Gun out of Britain…permanently.

    1. Hi Paul. If you are genuinely disgusted at this bloke then you should also be disgusted at 90% of upland keepers, Agents and Owners…and a lot (although a significantly lesser proportion) of low ground keepers too. He is just an identikit replica of all his ilk creeping about the new estate tracks in their 4x4s or on quads. All wear the same army surplus trousers, have same style 5-shot semi-auto’s and I would bet most have the same hawk decoy* or fox-pro calling device* to hand as well (*unless they stash these in a cavity in the drystone wall at the outbye gate). Maybe like me you can keep an extra vigilant eye out for dodgy activities from these types – you know what I mean? And like me encourage other concerned shooting folk to do so too – either in real life or on the forums? Regards Spaghnum, also a shooter – a recovering ex-fanatic in fact.

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