Mass poisoning of raptors in south Scotland – has there been a conviction?

From 2018 to 2020 there was a large, multi-agency investigation in south Scotland relating to the deaths of ‘upwards of 20 birds of prey’, including red kites and buzzards, around the Castle Douglas area – see here and here for previous blogs.

In April 2020 Police Scotland announced that a 64-year-old man had been charged in relation to the illegal poisoning of birds in the Stewartry area (which is close to Castle Douglas) and that a report had been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal (see here).

As far as I was aware, this case was ongoing, no pleas had been entered and the case was due back in court in March.

However, on Thursday the Daily Record ran a story about how some Police Scotland officers had been recognised for their efforts in ‘solving’ the poisoning crimes (see here).

Prior to the Daily Record’s article, Police Scotland had issued a press release about the officers winning Team of the Year at the Chief Constable’s Bravery and Excellence Awards on 19th February 2021 and the statement said, ‘This investigation led to an individual being convicted of wildlife crime offences‘ (see here).

First of all, many congratulations to the award-winning officers – as regular blog readers will know, raptor persecution crimes are rarely easy to get to the prosecution stage, let alone secure a conviction. The police officers deserve recognition, as do all the partner agencies who worked on this investigation.

But what about the conviction? Where was the publicity about it? This was a high profile case where a large number of protected birds of prey had been poisoned with a banned substance over a number of years. NB: It was not thought to be linked to the game-shooting industry, for a change.

What, exactly, was he convicted of and what was the sentence?

It seems slightly bizarre that the apparent successful prosecution of a raptor poisoner has not made the headlines, doesn’t it? What’s going on?

Come on, Police Scotland, it’s rare to get a win, let’s hear about it when it happens!

I’ll be chasing this up with the police next week.

UPDATE 2nd March 2021: Mass poisoning of raptors in south Scotland: this case is still live (here)

13 thoughts on “Mass poisoning of raptors in south Scotland – has there been a conviction?”

  1. “It seems slightly bizarre that the apparent successful prosecution of a raptor poisoner has not made the headlines, doesn’t it? What’s going on?”

    That is a most pertinent comment and a question that demands an answer PDQ !

    What ever happened to “Justice must not only be done. It must be seen to be done.”

    Have our (yes OUR as in what WE taxpayers finance) police/criminal justice administrators/government lost sight of the fact that the mere appearance of something being amiss is enough to bring about complete discredit.

    The shameful and entrenched failure to adequately deal with the crime reported in this blog is bad enough. Add to that a neglect to keep the public properly informed is well below par.

  2. There are plenty of press reports about a man being charged.

    I cannot find anything which reports a trial and conviction subsequently. It could be a request under The Freedom of Information Act to the Procurator Fiscal might establish if he came to trial. I lived in D and G and don’t recall seeing anything about this coming to court. Talking of “higher powers” I think they can be found in the Masonic Lodge.

    [Thanks, Frances. It won’t need an FoI. I think one of three things has happened here. Either (1) the case is not yet concluded, but someone at Police Scotland media has prematurely jumped the gun, or (2) the case has concluded but Police Scotland didn’t think the result worthy of a press release (I don’t believe this for one minute) or (3) the defendant has recently entered a ‘guilty’ plea, sentencing is still to take place, and Police Scotland are waiting for the sentencing outcome before going to the press. I guess we’ll find out next week.]

    1. Or 4 the person accepted a police caution and continued their normal business, with no revoke of firearms certificate etc.

  3. Alan Stewart in The Wildlife Detective describes poisoning as the most brutal and painful of all crimes against wildlife.
    The head can be stretched parallel along the back , whilst the tail feathers meet the breast bone. Imagine that!
    Only a custodial sentence would in any way fit the crime.

  4. It is normal for any court day in session has one or two journalists in attendance so that they can ‘get’ a good story for their editor.
    Silence on this occasion is unusual but i’m sure we will find out in due course, thanks to a particular lady who has an interest in such matters..

  5. Wildlife policing always seems to take a backseat. It always feels like lip service to a very important issue. Once upon a time you would be hung for a poaching a royal deer. You would be lucky to get a fine now. Until sentencing is tougher and enforcement more robust then it only carry on. All the money and time and peoples hard work rearing birds of prey ruined by illegal shooting and poisoning. The sentence should reflect the crime. When a reared gamebird is worth more than an eagle it’s a sad world.

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