18
Sep
13

Gamekeeper convicted for theft & massive illegal stash of ammunition & pesticides

Knights ammoGamekeeper Andrew Knights, 47, of Sandy Lane, Dereham, in Norfolk has been convicted for stealing over 7,500 rounds of ammunition and cartridges from his former employer, and for possessing 5,200 rounds illegally, and for illegally storing 36 canisters of the pesticide Talunex in his bedroom.

The offences were so serious (read the details in the news links below) that his case was heard at Norwich Crown Court as opposed to a Magistrates Court. On Monday he was given a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and a £1,000 fine. One report suggests he also received a 200-hour community service order. Essentially then, as long as he doesn’t commit any offences for the next 18 months, all he got for these offences was a £1,000 fine, and possibly a few weeks of unpaid work. Quite incredible, considering the scale of his criminal activities and the very high risk of danger to his family, neighbours and visitors to his home.

Excellent work by Norfolk Constabulary, Natural England, and the Health & Safety Executive who worked together to bring this case to court. As usual, the sentencing was a major disappointment; it was just a fraction of what could have been imposed.

Wonder if Mr Knights was/is a member of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation? So far there’s been no comment about it on their website (here). Let’s ask them! Emails to: info@nationalgamekeepers.org.uk

Norfolk Constabulary press release here

BBC news here

 

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16 Responses to “Gamekeeper convicted for theft & massive illegal stash of ammunition & pesticides”


  1. 1 John McAree
    September 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I remember the days when that much ammo was known as an arms dump.

    If Joe Bloggs from a housing estate possessed even a fraction of that ammunition he’d be looking at major time in jail, never mind suspending a sentence and a few months community work.

  2. 2 Andie R Timms
    September 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    If the police have any common sense they should revoke any firearms certificates he holds, and remove any weapons, this will deal him a blow with regards to getting a job as a gamekeeper in the future.

    • September 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      His firearms & some ammo were reportedly removed from him in January 2012 following a ‘domestic incident’. When his firearms certificate expired later that year, the police refused to renew it (see the press release from Norfolk Constabulary).

  3. 4 D
    September 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Police press release, last para stated:-

    “This is good example of the Police and Regulators working together to take robust action against those who unnecessarily put the lives of others at risk.”

    Which roughly translated means “This is a good example of the Police and Regulators puting in a lot of effort which, as usual, ended in a serious criminal getting off with a completely inadequate sentence and all at great expense to the taxpayer.
    Must be sickening to be a police officer at times.

    • 5 nirofo
      September 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      It’s a pity the court didn’t throw the book at him, firearms offences, stashed illegal poisons, I think our so-called justice system has become a laughing stock, anyone else would have received a jail sentence. Don’t these judges live in the real world, a sentence so lenient as this one could almost make people think someone is pulling strings here. Having said that, if anyone has been following the various cases for the last few years where gamekeepers have been involved, it would seem that they almost always receive extremely light sentences or get off with it altogether.

  4. 6 Charles Nodder
    September 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    To save people the trouble of emailing, I can confirm that the NGO can find no record of Andrew Knights ever having been a member. The organisation stands for best practice within gamekeeping and strongly condemns illegal acts. Our understanding from the press reports is that Mr Knights is no longer a gamekeeper.

    Charles Nodder
    Political Advisor
    National Gamekeepers’ Organisation

    • September 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks for the clarification about his NGO membership status.

      The press reports do indeed refer to Knights as a ‘former gamekeeper’ (i.e. he was a gamekeeper when he committed these offences). Will he work as a gamekeeper again? There’s nothing to stop him. His criminal conviction will also be no barrier to Natural England issuing him with a licence to kill protected species if he wanted to apply!

      By the way, we’re still waiting for the NGO to tell us whether the gamekeeper who DID get a buzzard licence this year, and whom we strongly suspect had a previous wildlife crime conviction, was a member of your organisation. Seeing as though the NGO supported his licence application, can we assume that he was a member? If so, how does that fit with your claim that the NGO ‘strongly condemns illegal acts’??

      • September 19, 2013 at 7:56 am

        Part of my thinking behind the E-petition I registered ( see Licencing of upland grouse moors and gamekeepers ) was to address this problem. Initially the prosecuted individual would be faced with a ban, but if there was then a “repeat offence” with a successful prosecution as the outcome that individual would be banned for life, besides having any right to use firearms withdrawn. Tough, maybe ! But for the persistent offender who is undoubtedly fully aware of the legal requirements the outcome is deserved in my opinion.

        So, if you haven’t yet signed you know what your next step should be!!

        http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/46473

        Many thanks, John Armitage.

  5. September 18, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Dear Mr Nodder….You do realise what you said in your comments above re the ‘former gamekeeper’ Mr Knights and the NGO, quote….’the organisation stands for best practice within gamekeeping’….unquote. Perhaps you can clarify that along with clarifying, quote….’strongly condemns illegal acts’….unquote.

    • 10 Charles Nodder
      September 19, 2013 at 8:52 am

      Sorry but I am not sure what you are getting at here. The NGO is for best practice and against law-breaking. Is that not clear? Please understand that not all people calling themselves ‘gamekeepers’ are members of the NGO.

      This website is implacably against raptor persecution and so too is the NGO. We are members of the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime and active participants in the Raptor Persecution Wildlife Crime Priority Group. We supported and publicised the official maps produced earlier this year showing where birds of prey had been confirmed poisoned.

      So far as I know, only two members of the NGO (out of 16,000) have ever been convicted of crimes against raptors have both been publicly condemned on conviction and chucked out. The organisation’s disciplinary policy and unequivocal statement opposing raptor persecution are on the NGO website.

      The NGO, and the firm stance it is taking on this subject, can probably achieve more in cleaning up game management practice and encouraging people to follow legal routes than any amount of sniping from the sidelines. You should regard us as a key part of the solution, not part of the problem. An organisation to be supported, not attacked.

      And on the buzzard licence applicant, we cannot comment on spent convictions any more than you but I can assure you that he has never been convicted of any crime against wildlife.

      Charles Nodder
      Political Advisor
      National Gamekeepers’ Organisation

      • September 19, 2013 at 9:37 am

        Thanks for your reply.

        Regarding your last sentence, was the buzzard licence applicant convicted of possession of a stock of several banned poisons (including Carbofuran) that are typically used to illegally kill wildlife? And was he convicted under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981?

        Not convicted for illegally poisoning wildlife, granted, but was he nevertheless convicted for possession of banned substances that are commonly used to illegally kill wildlife? Is someone with a conviction for possession of banned poisons still welcomed with open arms at the NGO, even though you claim not to tolerate illegal activites?

      • 12 nirofo
        September 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm

        Quote:
        “The NGO, and the firm stance it is taking on this subject, can probably achieve more in cleaning up game management practice and encouraging people to follow legal routes than any amount of sniping from the sidelines. You should regard us as a key part of the solution, not part of the problem. An organisation to be supported, not attacked.”

        Okay Charles Nodder, you make a strong claim for the NGO in your above statement, lets see you and the rest of the NGO put their money where their mouth is and start to clean up all the Raptor persecution that we all know, including yourselves, is not only taking place but is rampant on the majority of shooting estates throughout the UK, particularly on grouse moors. When I say clean up I don’t mean issue platitudes about how well you are doing, I mean strong evidence with proof that this is actually happening. Until this statrts to happen in a serious way then the majority of estate owners and gamekeepers either in or outside the NGO will continue to be pressed at every opportunity and will be observed and blogged about wherever possible until they clean up their act once and for all.

  6. 13 Marco McGinty
    September 19, 2013 at 4:07 am

    I would imagine that anyone storing this amount of ammunition and poisons is, at some stage, going to use them against someone or something, so it is odd that he has received such a lenient sentence.

    Now compare his sentence with other recent criminal cases in the same county;

    Bike theft = 6 months imprisonment (suspended)
    http://www.norfolk.police.uk/newsandevents/newsstories/2013/september/bikethiefsentenced.aspx
    Drugs possession = 13 month jail term and £100 fine
    http://www.norfolk.police.uk/newsandevents/newsstories/2013/september/drugdealerjailed.aspx
    Burglary = 32 weeks imprisonment
    http://www.norfolk.police.uk/newsandevents/newsstories/2013/september/manjailedforburglary.aspx
    Car breaking = 12 weeks imprisonment
    http://www.norfolk.police.uk/newsandevents/newsstories/2013/july/manjailedovercarbreakin.aspx
    Rogue trading = 18 months imprisonment
    http://www.norfolk.police.uk/newsandevents/newsstories/2013/july/jailforroguetrader.aspx

    Apart from the bike theft incident, none of the other prison terms were suspended. It would be difficult for anyone to argue that any of these cases had any potential life-threatening aspects to them, yet the man that in theory could have killed thousands of people, virtually walks away. It’s a funny old system!

    • 14 Dougie
      September 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      “I would imagine that anyone storing this amount of ammunition and poisons is, at some stage, going to use them against someone or something, so it is odd that he has received such a lenient sentence.”

      This case needs more explanation. Cannot be at all sure, but maybe selling the ammunition on was the aim. Incredible amount for anyone to have.

      • 15 Marco McGinty
        September 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm

        I can see where you’re coming from, but he left his job in April 2012 and the ammunition discoveries occurred in November and December of that year. I believe if the ammunition was to be sold, it would have happened long before the police found it.


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