Michael Johnston convicted for possession of banned poison

scales-of-justiceMichael James Johnston has been convicted at Dumfries Sheriff Court for possession of a banned poison.

Johnston, 45, of Pretoria Road, Eastriggs, Dumfriesshire, was disturbed at Dryfesdale Gate Farm in Lockerbie in April 2014. The Police were called and they found the banned poison Strychnine in his vehicle.

Strychnine is one of eight poisons banned under the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005. The other seven substances are Aldicarb, Alphachloralose, Aluminium phosphide,  Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Mevinphos and Sodium cyanide. All eight poisons are known to have been used to poison wildlife. Anyone caught in possession of any of these can face fines of up to £5,000 and/or a six month custodial sentence.

At a hearing on 23rd March 2015 Johnston was fined £400.

Previous blogs on this case here and here.


17 Responses to “Michael Johnston convicted for possession of banned poison”

  1. 1 Ron Bury
    March 30, 2015 at 11:01 am

    That seems to me to be a very small amount and not much of a deterrent.

  2. 2 Anand Prasad
    March 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

    £400! Why didn’t the sheriff just award him compensation for the court-time eating into his poisoning activity.
    Don’t know why XXXXX XXXXX bothers with a fancy lawyer when we have courts like this.

  3. 3 sallygutteridge
    March 30, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Nothing on motives or background, I wonder what he was actually using it for and whether any known or proven use of the poisons would have prompted a different result/punishment?

  4. 4 Les Wallace
    March 30, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Disgusting, what a joke, 400 quid for strewing a notorious poison across the countryside! Hardly going to make his kindred spirits sweat.

    • March 30, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      He wasn’t convicted for “strewing a notorious poison across the countryside”. He was convicted for possession – it was found inside his vehicle. Even so, possession (as opposed to ‘use’) is supposedly considered a serious enough offence to warrant a £5,000 fine and/or six months in jail.

      • 6 David
        April 2, 2015 at 12:12 am

        If the offender has no previous records of imprisonment then the sheriff can’t impose a custodial sentence unless there is no other appropriate method to deal with the offender. See Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, s 204(2).

        The £5000 fine or the six months imprisonment is the maximum sentence available for this offence. The sheriff has to take into account the means of the offender and the criminal records (if any), personal circumstances, motivation for committing the crime, early please, time spent in custody, etc will also be relevant. Obviously, the most important factor is still the seriousness of the crime. In this case

        There is no point in imposing a too high fine since this would lead only to the offender defaulting and ending up back to the courts, which is not necessarily a desirable outcome.

        There is a report by the Sentencing Commission for Scotland on how fines are determined in the sheriff summary courts: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/archive/law-order/17305/Fines

        Scottish Ministers are in the process of creating the Scottish Sentencing Council with the aim to improve consitency in sentencing.

  5. March 30, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    it is time to pursue politicians about the pathetic penalties used in these cases, if they ever get that far???

  6. 10 AnMac
    March 30, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    What a paltry amount of a fine but suppose the evidence that was led would only be for possession. Still, a conviction for someone who can now be classed as a potential danger to raptors etc

  7. 11 I C T
    March 30, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Pathetic, no deterent, no wonder the countryside is a haven for criminals.

  8. 12 Me
    March 30, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    A scene from one of our inner City “Estates”
    Q What do we have here
    A C’mon man it’s fur ma protection.
    Conclusion -Wrong answer straight to jail and custody for court the next day.
    The correct response should have been.
    Q What do we have here
    A Sorry guys I need it for my work.
    Q Oh aye and what do you do
    A I’m a Gamekeeper
    Q And you work for the owner of this “Estate”
    A Indeed I do
    A Right ,we’ll still need to fire in a report,but probably nothing much will happen.Your free to go after we’ve taken your details

    • 13 Grouseman
      March 30, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      Where is there any suggestion that this man is a gamekeeper or worked for an estate. The chances are he had (albeit illegally) for killing moles. This blog should be renamed anti-keeper Scotland!

  9. 14 Alan Gregory
    March 30, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    And so the killing goes on – what a JOKE

  10. 15 Pete Woodruff
    March 30, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    A huge joke from the minute he was disturbed at the farm almost a year ago until his fine of £400 was handed out. You have to wonder what the cost of all this garbage (trail) was. Yes….A JOKE.

  11. 16 Walt Delete
    March 31, 2015 at 8:08 am

    Grouseman…….i can see your point .

    Its a bit like saying “all persons tampering with tachographs are lorry drivers..!”

    wake up ,your kidding nobody

  12. 17 Me
    April 1, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Yes you are correct Grouseman,one should not assume anything.I was going to mention that XXXXXXXXXXXXX may have a relative that may stay in the Rossshire area,allegedly,as there may be a connection regarding a similar matter of someone having allegedly used a banned substance in order to allegedly control “vermin” in the area in which they allegedly reside and allegedly nothing seems to have been done.
    I was always told that ignorance of the “law” was no excuse( or was it arrogance for the “law” was an excuse !!)
    Anyway I should not assume what the circumstances are until I know the facts of the matter and I apologise for my apparent ignorance on all the alleged facts I have been presented with via this alleged excellent blog regarding the continued illegal use of poison,traps,snares,cages,baits,firearms……etc,etc,etc in the alleged pursuit of killing wildlife in the United Kingdom only in years to come to hear people out walking in the “countryside” say ” ..beautiful scenery isn’t it ….allegedly there was quite a lot of wildlife in this area….Hen Harrier’s,Buzzards,Eagles,Gohawks,Fox,Mountain Hare …..”
    “Yeh what happened to them”
    “Well allegedly………….”

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