The trial of a man accused of stealing peregrine eggs from a nest site in the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire has collapsed after elements of the police investigation were ruled unlawful.
This case relates to the alleged theft of peregrine eggs in 2020, where video footage filmed by the RSPB showed an individual climbing to a peregrine nest and removing the eggs (see here, here, here and here for previous blogs).
[A peregrine with eggs. Photo by Barb Baldinger]
The trial began at Chesterfield Magistrates this week but collapsed yesterday as the defence lawyer challenged certain procedural aspects of the police’s investigation, namely the arrest and the subsequent search of the man’s property.
The judge considered the evidence and ruled in the defendant’s favour, i.e. that certain aspects of the police investigation were indeed unlawful. The defendant left court with a not guilty verdict.
I am awaiting the full details of this judgement before commenting on Derbyshire Police’s failure to follow police procedural rules but this does seem pretty basic stuff. And surely the lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service should have picked up these errors before the case even reached court? Hopefully the court will publish the judgement so we can see the extent of the police’s apparent ineptitude in this case.
A BBC reporter, Simon Hare, tweeted this yesterday from the court:
This evening, the RSPB has published its video footage of a man stealing the eggs from the peregrine’s nest site.
It’s such a disappointing result. With excellent footage from the RSPB that will have taken a great deal of time and skill to procure, this is a case that should have been straightforward. It’s doubly frustrating because as you’ll all know, it’s so rare that good quality evidence is available in so many raptor persecution cases, so when it is available we all hope it will lead to justice being served.
Understanding what went wrong in this case will be important and lessons need to be learned, not least by Derbyshire Police’s Rural Crime Team.