Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen guilty of multiple raptor persecution, poisons & firearms offences

Further to my blog post on January 1st 2023 (here), this morning gamekeeper Paul Scott Allen, 54, of Baileys Hill, Brockington, near Wimbourne in Dorset, has pleaded guilty to seven charges of raptor persecution, poisons and firearms offences whilst he was working on a privately-run gamebird shoot located on the Shaftesbury Estate in March 2021.

Convicted gamekeeper Paul Scott Allen outside court today. Photo by BNPS

Following the discovery of a poisoned red kite on the estate in November 2020, a multi-agency raid led by Dorset Police’s (now former) wildlife crime officer Claire Dinsdale took place in March 2021 (see here) where the corpses of six dead buzzards were found by a pen behind his house (tests later showed they had all been shot, including one that was was estimated to have been shot in the last 24hrs). Officers also found the remains (bones) of at least three more buzzards on a bonfire.

A loaded shotgun was found propped up behind a kitchen door (!) and 55 rounds of ammunition were found in a shed. Both the gun and the ammunition should have been inside a locked cabinet, by law. The ammunition was not covered by Allen’s firearms certificate.

Officers also found a number of dangerous, and banned, chemicals, including two bottles of Strychnine, two containers of Cymag and a packet of Ficam W (Bendiocarb) in various locations, including in a vehicle used by Allen.

Four of six illegally shot buzzards found during the police raid. Photo by RSPB

The seven guilty pleas included two counts of possessing a live or dead bird, or parts thereof, one charge of failing to comply with the conditions of a shotgun certificate, one charge of failing to comply with the conditions of a firearms certificate, one count of possessing a regulated substance without a license, one count of failing to comply with  regulations in accordance with the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 and one charge of contravening a health and safety regulations.

A number of charges were dropped prior to the hearing. More on that shortly.

Sentencing was adjourned for reports and Allen is due back in court on 16th February 2023.

There is plenty to discuss about this case and I will do that over the coming days. In the meantime, press attendance at court was strong so I’ll add the links to the various reports as they come out, below.

MEDIA COVERAGE

DorsetLive here

Bournemouth Echo here

BBC News here

Daily Telegraph here

ITV News (includes RSPB video footage from the crime scene) here

The Times here

RSPB press statement (includes crime scene photos) here

UPDATE 4th January 2023: The estate that Dorset Police refused to search after discovery of poisoned eagle is the same location where gamekeeper was today convicted of multiple raptor persecution crimes (here)

23 thoughts on “Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen guilty of multiple raptor persecution, poisons & firearms offences”

  1. Please correct me if I’m wrong Ruth but is it correct that Allen was not convicted of actually killing the raptors, merely possession of the bodies?

    Let us hope that he gets more than the usual slap on the wrist for these awful crimes.

        1. It’s a bit like somebody being convicted of having the murder weapon, having the body of the murder victim at their premises but not being convicted of murder. Let’s see just how light the tap on his wrist is!

          1. Totally agree – how much more evidence do you need, short of actually catching the man in the act? I think what is necessary is a change in law to make it easier to prosecute the owners and managers of the land and/or operators of the shoot. I don’t believe that gamekeepers are doing this without tacit approval of acceptance by owners etc. Why would they take such risks otherwise? There needs to be a presumption in law that the person who owns or is in control of the land Is also guilty where a gamekeeper or employee is convicted. The owner/operator would then have to adduce evidence that they did not know about it or tacitly accept the crime by not putting in place rules/checks to prevent it.

  2. Oh dear. No other convictions …
    simply because he was never caught.
    At 54 xxx xxx xxx xxx xxxx these were first offences, regardless of his personal circumstances.
    Meaningful custodial sentence please ( would make a nice change)

  3. Bless, couldnt MP Loder have helped him a little…got him off perhaps? Maybe he did, maybe thats why other charges were dropped.

  4. Another year and yet more instances of callous killing ; illegal in this case, but both this AND the legal persecution of wildlife should be a growing cause for concern. On & around shooting estates, it’s NEVER a happy new year for wildlife. It’s high time both our RSPB AND Wildlife Trusts took an unequivocal stance & officially campaigned against these sickening, self-indulgent, sadistic bloodsports. In the meantime, let’s ensure this wanton destruction of wildlife is publicised as much as possible…
    #BanBirdShootingBloodsportsNOW

  5. Without direct or very strong circumstantial evidence of the killings it would be impossible to proceed on those charges. You know it, I know it and so does everybody else but without legally accepted evidence you need to go with what you can prove. Frustrating but that’s how the system works.

    1. Yes, stick with what you are sure of rather than taking chances and having the blighter either found not guilty or winning an appeal.

    2. burning bodies IS the strongest circumstantial evidence possible. Firearm w/o licence is default mandatory 5 years jail – referral to Crown Court w/o Magistrate discretion…..q holding shotgun after leaving prison also criminal offence with no other crime ….

  6. It should not go unrecorded that huge thanks are due to the then wildlife crime officer, Claire Dinsdale, for her highly professional work on this (and other cases). More worryingly, one also has to ask whether, under the current regime in Dorset, this case would have been pursued with such vigor or, indeed, whether it would have ever come to court at all.

    1. Claire was the best Wildlife Crime officer Dorset could have but that seems to have led to her being moved aside by the powers to be!?

  7. History tells us that this gamekeeper will get off lightly or completely due to “lack of evidence”. Surely it is time to hold the estate owner vicariously liable for the actions of their employee. At the moment, the owners rule the estates with impunity and claim ignorance of the charges. It would only need one or two to be held liable and prosecuted and fined/jailed and then estate owners would be more inclined to control the gamekeepers and ensure that they act within the law.

    [Ed: Thanks for your comment, Warren. For clarity, this gamekeeper wasn’t employed by the estate at the time he committed these crimes. He is believed to be employed by a private shoot that just happens to be located on the estate]

  8. In the midst of all this horror, you do provide us hope Ruth. Thank you for your meticulous record keeping and for having the courage to speak the truth.

  9. Can’t get over how careless this keeper was regards (not )disposing of corpses and (not) stashing away the poisons. He is only 54 so is very much a part of of the modern keepers world – with it’s bitterly resented pressures of increased scrutiny. Or maybe the keepers around there just feel so confident of their “top cover” that they really don’t give a shit and can’t be arsed to be more careful.

  10. ITV reported that the gamekeeper had been “recently widowed and had two teenage children”. These facts were no doubt presented to court in order to tug at heartstrings. But I find it extremely worrying that the father of two teenagers who have recently lost their mother would leave a shotgun just leaning against his doorway and ammunition in an unlocked shed. Quite aside from the raptor persecution, which is bad enough, I think there might be child protection issues here also.

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