Criminal Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen receives suspended custodial sentence, despite multiple wildlife, poisons & firearms offences


Further to this morning’s blog (here), criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen, 54, of Baileys Hill, in Brockington, near Wimborne, has been given a suspended custodial sentence and a small fine after he pleaded guilty to multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences whilst working on the Shaftesbury Estate in Dorset in March 2021.

For possessing the dead birds (nine buzzards, six confirmed to have been shot), Allen received a total of 15 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.

He also received fines totalling £2,022 and compensation to the value of £844.70.

He avoided an immediate custodial sentence on the basis of ‘strong personal mitigation’, which basically means he was saved from jail because of the impact it would have on the care of his two teenagers.

More to follow….

UPDATE 10pm: There’s a really good article on the Dorset Live website about what happened in court this afternoon – well worth a read (here)

UPDATE 17th February 2023: RSPB’s response to sentencing of criminal Dorset gamekeeper, Paul Allen (here)

UPDATE 20th February 2023: Game-shooting industry’s response to sentencing of Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen (here)

UPDATE 20th February 2023: Dorset Police response to sentencing of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen (here)

UPDATE 24th February 2023: Natural England’s response to sentencing of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen (here)

37 thoughts on “Criminal Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen receives suspended custodial sentence, despite multiple wildlife, poisons & firearms offences”

  1. No surprise there then.
    Our judiciary are pathetic at handing out sentences that will deter others from doing the same.
    Just another slap on the wrist

    1. In other circumstances, any member of the public can ask the Attorney General to review a sentence for ‘undue leniency’. There is a simple procedure to enable this, and the Attorney General is then *obliged* to carry out a review, even if only one person has made the request. They don’t have to agree with the request, but they do have to consider.

      This is the way the law in England and Wales tries to maintain the confidence of the general public.

      However, animal abuse and wildlife crime are *exempted* from this provision (along with certain other crimes – which should also shock you).

      I have asked a previous Attorney General to include animal abuse and wildlife crime within the remit of the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme. But it needs more than just one request: my suggestion is that it would be most useful for lots of people to add more such requests for inclusion, and to make sure they copy to their MP.

      I have even written to animal/wildlife charities to suggest they launch a Parliamentary e-petition calling for animal abuse and wildlife crime to be included within the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme… The Wildlife Trusts were especially interested. But it needs momentum…

      But don’t get mad, get even.

      For information, the Attorney General has recently published the annual Unduly Lenient Sentence statistics for 2021:

      Lots of Parliamentarians agree with us… there needs to be a public campaign. Lots of people feel aggrieved at the leniency of certain sentences.. including many MPs. They have been ‘kicking around’ the idea of expanding the scheme for a number of years.

      The latest debate I found was 23 November 2022 (death from drunken driving….)


      Before that, 25th May 2021

      I would like to quote the closing speech, because I find it inspirational (and – shock/horror – it was from a Tory MP):

      “Let’s face it, if we were creating a criminal justice system today, we would not create one like this. There is no way that we would say that the defence can appeal against anything but the prosecution cannot. That is simply not how anyone would create a system that rightly prides itself on balance and fairness. As far as the unduly lenient sentence scheme is concerned, we do not yet have that, so I would ask that this process, which has rightly been pursued by the Ministry, continues to look at *what other offences can be brought into the scope of the scheme*, so that we can have equality of arms and ensure that justice prevails, which is, after all, what we all seek to achieve.”


      1. Thanks keith. A very helpful and informative post. This is certainly something that wildlife/animal campaigners, charities and organisations need to get behind and petition a debate in parliament, perhaps using a platform such as to generate wider public support.
        It is totally absurd that parliament have recently introduced various new pieces of legislation to better protect animals and wildlife, as well as recognise the sentience of animals, but then continue to allow the courts to pass pathetic sentences like this.
        Bearing in mind the abysmal detection rates for most wildlife crimes, then the law has to provide a greater deterrence by ensuring offenders receive much tougher sentences which will have a severe impact on their lives.

        1. “This is certainly something that wildlife/animal campaigners, charities and organisations need to get behind and petition a debate in parliament”

          Absolutely. They have substantial emailing lists which they can employ. I don’t see it as requiring much work… which was the excuse I received for not immediately going ahead with it.

          “perhaps using a platform such as to generate wider public support.”

          Parliament can (and do) ignore petitions, although it does provide greater publicity support for campaigners.

          However, Parliament cannot ignore its own e-petitions, and 100,000 signatures gains a Parliamentary debate. If nothing else, it raises the profile of the issue.

          Even the Law Gazette supports a change:


          I really think we could be pushing at an open door…

    1. In the only survey (March 2019) of firearms licences and criminal convictions that I know about, 39% of all registered gun and crossbow owners on the Isle of Man had a criminal record.

  2. WTF when are courts going to treat these crimes seriously and give proper penalties to these career criminals because a keeper of his age MAY well have been committing this sort of wildlife crime uncaught for over 30 years. Any game keeper knows the rules/law about poisons, guns and bird protection inside out and yet courts seem to behave as if they didn’t and give a slap on the wrist FFS.

    1. Thing is it toffs looking after toffs i have zero time for game keepers with their false accusations and illegal shooting trapping and poisonings he should be facing at least 5 years in lockup no early release

  3. Yet another example as to why we must get creative. The anti-foxhunting movement have done extremely well with their video recording which they then place on social media. Gathering evidence from various parts of the system would be difficult initially but enough information exists to predict which nests will be targetted and on what estates this is habitual. Co-ordination would be required as to the presence of birds on these estates along with some enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers. Hoping for the authorities charged with overseeing, enforcing, prosecuting and sentencing these criminals have been found not to be up to the task. This was not because dedicated honest, individuals were absent in those areas — but because they had the legs taken from under them by others more powerful than them once they had been exploited. Indeed, it appears to me that some of the more decicated volunteers have simply been used to unwittingly gather intelligence and part of their job was to create relationships with bird workers and send the details of anyhting learnt upstairs.
    One thing for sure is that more of the same will not lead to the end we all want. We need the public on our side. We need exposes of those doing the duplicitous PR work .. or non targetr species caught in their traps — of unguarded conversations on mobiles or in pubs. Pressure must be put on those actually committing the crimes as, at present, they know that no matter what happens, they will be looked after.

  4. Did he lose his firearms licences and if not, why not? His cavalier attitude to gun ownership surely puts his children at risk.
    There have been cases in the USAwhere children have accidentally shot themselves or others with their parents’ guns

  5. Can we expect strong words of disapproval from Game Shooting organisations, dismissal by his employers. and disqualification from any ” professional “bodies

  6. This sentence is no deterrent to a person who has pleaded guilty to shooting and poisoning our wildlife.

    [Ed: for clarity, Allen was not charged with shooting or poisoning wildlife and in a police interview he actively denied doing so. He was charged with possession of the shot (and burnt) buzzards and the unsecure poisons. Nevertheless, I agree with your main point – his sentence is no deterrent]

    1. Did he have a believable explanation as to how he came in possession of the dead birds?
      If not he should have had the book thrown at him.

  7. Back to work next week, really good role model for the kids. xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

  8. Pathetic, but blame the sentencing guidelines that make allowances for previous good character (I.e. never been caught before).

  9. Disappointment and despair, are I am sure, are being experienced by many humane acting people over this contemptuous sentence for killing protected bird species, and harbouring dangerous toxins and firearms. The “bleat” for mercy from this gamekeeper, was that his teenage sons would be adversely affected if he served time. Will this suspension of real justice be set in stone as a precedent for further similar cases? It also creates an impression that big majority public opinion on wildlife persecution and blood sports, does not count, but those controlling landscapes where such activities occur, will be sanctified as places where dangerous chemicals, traps, snares and arsenals of guns will be available for the enforcement of the keeping this fake “sport” of shooting game birds in egregious numbers by those who know they will not face what is really required, and that is a stiff sentence in a prison.

  10. They are laughing at those who care. Terrible decision…. Lawbreakers backed by the law and Judiciary. I despair. Very sad.

  11. Its really canned hunting when you come down to it.
    I expect his guns are now confiscated and will be sent to the police furness. And he will be never allowed to hold a gun certificate again.
    Tip of the iceberg thats what this is.
    Humans, the most dangerous creature on the planet, some of them are, we need more support for more nature, thousands of miles of hedgerows need restoring for a start.

  12. How are the swines getting the banned poisons? Isn’t this a way to catch them? Are they using the dark web to get access to them? There must be some way of exposing this?

      1. “Pigs are… not human miscreants.”

        No one said they were. The colloquial usage of the term swine can be confined to a person who is considered extremely unpleasant and unkind (cf. Cambridge English Dictionary, Collins Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary etc etc)

  13. “Allen was unaware of the illegality of the substances found on his property, though admitted this was no defence, given his job as a gamekeeper would have involved knowing the law. ”

    Seriously? That should have been a reason to increase his sentence, for lack of professional competence – see also the guns’n’ammunition thing.

    And that’s before we get to the safeguarding issues – certainly child in need, possibly as far as child protection (yes, I have seen that in the past).

  14. Name & shame the magistrate / judge who slapped his wrist! That person should have to justify why they let him off with such a pathetic sentence

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