Convicted Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen due to be sentenced today

Paul Allen, 54, the gamekeeper convicted last month of multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences committed on the Shaftesbury Estate, Dorset in March 2021 (here) is due to be sentenced at Weymouth Magistrates Court this afternoon.

Convicted gamekeeper Paul Allen leaving court in January 2023. Photo: BNPS

You may recall, 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, specifically-designed gun 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 the nine dead buzzards found. Photo: RSPB

At a hearing on 4th January 2023, Allen pleaded guilty to seven charges including 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 other charges were dropped minutes before the start of the hearing after some discussion between the defence and the CPS. I’ve annotated this court listing to demonstrate the changes. The court listing was provided by a court clerk at last month’s hearing (thanks to the blog reader who sent it to me).

The court deferred sentencing until today to allow reports to be complied on Allen, to help inform sentencing. In my view these crimes pass the custody threshold but the court will need to consider any mitigating factors. For example, it has been reported elsewhere that Allen is recently widowed and has two teenage children. If he is the sole carer for these children then that will likely impact on the type of sentence he receives, although I would argue that having unsecure, highly dangerous poisons and an unsecure loaded shotgun propped up behind his kitchen door is questionable behaviour for an apparently responsible parent.

Sentencing takes place this afternoon and a large amount of media coverage is anticipated. I’ll report back later.

UPDATE 16.30hrs: Criminal Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen receives suspended custodial sentence despite committing multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences (here)

12 thoughts on “Convicted Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen due to be sentenced today”

      1. As normal, give him a slap on the wrist , “don’t do it again, you naughty boy” suspended sentences don’t work, he will go straight back xxxxx xxxxx birds of prey, xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
        These people will not listen, have never listened, what a waste of tax payers money, should have been handed a sentence for each bird killed, banned from holding a firearms licence permanently, and should have been sentenced for having each of the banned poisons, not to mention all of the fines relayed to killing birds of prey, and then there is the estate he worked at, they should loose the right to hold shoots permanently, xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx We should be protecting our wildlife, and making an example of these criminals, not letting them off every single time.
        Many rural police officers have to deal with these crimes, only to be let down by the cps, the police see the devastation caused by criminal activities, do all the leg work only for the cps, and mps to shut it down, or play down the offences and hand out sentences not worth the efforts put in by the rural police.
        Wildlife groups also do not back the police like they should, possibly because some have a link to the shooting grounds, or their operators, it is sad to think many of our birds of prey will become extinct because of the lack of action by courts against these crimes.
        For far too long the shooting community have had an easy run, there never seems to be any criminals brought to bare foe their crimes against wildlife, especially the protected birds of prey, poisoning and shooting these birds should automatically carry a 10 year sentence minimum, and a £10,000 fine per bird for shooting industry, this would make them take an interest in keeping the birds of prey alive instead of killing them to protect game birds, as for game bird shooting, don’t you think in these times of severe poverty, and struggle in local communities that we should put a stop to barbarian sports? In a time where nature is struggling along with people to survive, the rich cary on regardless killing birds for fun, is this normal behaviour?.
        It’s time we stopped killing for fun, and fixed the damage caused by humans instead of continuing to cause problems, and continuing to kill protected birds, of if they will not stop , actually get behind the laws in place and take action against them.
        Between the rich folk who pay for the best lawyers, and mps who get involved there have not been any significant cases taken out against the shooting gangs, and when it does get to court nothing is done to deter them, if that had been me, or any other normal person we would have been locked up for many years, makes me think they have someone on their payroll to protect them from jail time. Or the cps is really as broken as I suspect it is, a suspended sentence is just not good enough, but that is the same sentence handed out to people who cause carnage driving a car illegally, without insurance, or licence, or someone who crashes killing people by accident, it means nothing, it is a badge of honour for criminals , yeh blood I got a suspended sentence bruv…
        It is not a punishment, but an honour for them, it means they will keep a low profile for a while, xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
        Please cps, get real, start giving out proper punishment, the cps usually give a recommendation of sentence to a court, the recommendation should match the crime, and should be a deterrent, a sentence that will make sense, one that will make others think twice before committing crimes.

  1. Everytime I see another experienced (middle aged) gamekeeper being convicted, I can’t help wondering whether they fell off the path of righteousness just before they were caught, or whether their crimes were the tip of the ice that had been perpetrated over several years, taught by the previous generation of gamekeepers. It potentially adds up to an awfully large amount of dead raptors per convicted experienced gamekeeper. e.g. Six buzzards per year for say fifteen years; ninety dead buzzards.
    I get the feeling until vicarious liability, for their employers, is added to the statute book across the UK, these crime will continue.

    1. There is already vicarious liability in Scotland but I don’t know whether it has ever been used.
      The Scottish government is also consulting on a grouse shooting licence scheme for landowners

      1. I think it’s safe to say Rachel that vicarious liability in Scotland has failed.

        I also think that driven grouse shooting licensing is Scotland’s next (expensive) policy failure in the making.

  2. All very fair Ruth, but I doubt you agree. Responsible law abiding fathers don’t put their children’s care on the line. Or leave deadly poisons hanging around.
    Seems to me the kids could be better off elsewhere.
    Gamekeepers have treated the law with utter contempt
    Isnt it time to make an example?
    Custodial sentences mean business

  3. It is notable that the – arguably the most serious – charge of ‘Killing a Schedule 1 wild bird’ was dropped. This suggests some major horse-trading has already occurred and I suspect that this will follow through to sentencing. Like you Ruth I think this wildlife criminal has done more than enough to be locked-up but, sadly, I forecast the usual slap-on-the-wrist. Also, I suspect the judge will be more bothered about the firearms offences than the wildlife crimes.

  4. Typical of law enforcement or lack of it. This is a serious offence, which deserves a custodial sentence. Harsh on the family, but necessary. Defendant should have considered the consequences before perpetrating this offence. No sympathy from me. This is occurring on most shoots and I wonder whether checks will follow and the landowners held accountable. Too much trouble for our overstretched Police!

  5. Yet again all this proves that birds of prey are not protected by any law at all!! So much for the Wildlife and Countryside Act, it means nothing!!!

  6. There is a big question mark as to why some of the more serious charges were dropped. Had these been pursued then a custodial sentence would have been certain. Was there some influence at work here?

    The firearms offences would usually be viewed extremely seriously. The police don’t seem to have taken these in anything like an appropriate manner. I once belonged to a gun club (target shooting) and police were red hot on anyone breaching regulations. Have they made a report to social services in view of the safeguarding issues with his children?

    Then there are the chemical poisons which seem to have been considered lightly. I am sure that if they found these in my possession it would have been very different.

    Query Freemasons on the bench and in Dorset Police? Dorset Police are a Freemason infested swamp for sure. a friend of mine obtained all the Dorset Masonic Lodge books so I shall be searching these to see what names come up.

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