Criminal proceedings against a 21-year-old gamekeeper for multiple alleged raptor persecution and firearms offences have been delayed.
Archie Watson, of Dragon Lane in Manningford Bruce near Pewsey, Wiltshire, was due to appear at Swindon Magistrates next Wednesday (25th May 2022) to face six charges under the Wildlife & Countryside Act and three charges under firearms legislation, for offences alleged to have been committed on an unnamed game-shooting estate in 2019.
However, this case has now been adjourned to 1st June 2022 where Watson will be invited to submit his plea. If he pleads guilty sentencing will follow shortly afterwards; if he pleads not guilty this case will proceed to trial at a later date.
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 site in Beckhampton (see here).
Earlier this month 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 been charged and court proceedings are live, I won’t be accepting blog comments on this case until criminal proceedings have concluded. Thanks for your understanding.