Further to last week’s blog about a Wiltshire gamekeeper facing multiple raptor persecution and firearms offences (see here), this individual has now been named.
According to the Swindon Advertiser (here), the gamekeeper is 21-year-old Archie Watson of Dragon Lane in Manningford Bruce near Pewsey, Wiltshire.
Watson is due in court on 25th May to face six charges under the Wildlife & Countryside Act and three firearms offences.
This case relates to a multi-agency raid in Wiltshire in September 2020 when two warrants were executed at locations in the Pewsey and Beckhampton areas. Firearms were seized as part of ongoing enquiries, and the carcasses of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards, were located at the location in Beckhampton (see here).
A Wiltshire Police spokesperson said: ‘The case has been brought after almost two years of detailed investigation and forensic analysis in conjunction with the CPS, RSPB and other partners. It is potentially the largest English raptor persecution case in terms of the number of alleged victims‘.
For context, and to provide an indication of how many raptor deaths may be involved, prior to this case the largest one in England was at the Stody Estate in Norfolk in 2014 (here) when gamekeeper Allen Lambert was found guilty of poisoning 11 birds of prey – 10 buzzards and one sparrowhawk.
PLEASE NOTE: As Archie Watson has now been charged, I won’t be accepting blog comments on this case until criminal proceedings have concluded. Thanks for your understanding.
UPDATE 20th May 2022: Court case delayed against Wiltshire gamekeeper Archie Watson (here)