21
May
15

Update on convicted gin trap gamekeeper James O’Reilly

james_oreilly gamekeeper gin trapA few updates on some of the questions we asked yesterday following the conviction of Scottish gamekeeper James O’Reilly (see here)….

1. We asked the Cardross Estate whether O’Reilly was still employed as a gamekeeper on their estate. They have issued the following statement:

CARDROSS ESTATE REFUTES WILDLIFE CRIME ALLEGATIONS

(Issued on behalf of Cardross Estate)

Cardross Estate today issued the following statement after the conviction and sentencing of a gamekeeper at Stirling Sheriff Court on offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

Sir Archie Orr-Ewing, owner of Cardross Estate, said: “The reputation of the estate has been unjustly tarnished by the publicity around these court proceedings. The estate does not have any involvement whatsoever in the sporting management of the land in question. The area of land where these offences occurred is let on a long-term lease to a third party who has full rights and responsibilities for the management of sporting activity. The gamekeeper is employed by the third party and has never been employed by the estate.

“Having co-operated fully with the authorities during their investigation and having been asked to be a prosecution witness, I am bitterly disappointed that the Crown Office did not see fit to clarify the estate’s position in its public statement following the case.

“Cardross Estate is an estate that takes its land managcment responsibilities very seriously and is a business focused on the local community and the delivery of sustainable rural enterprise. In particular, we are committed to contributing to the tourism offering of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.”

END

According to some media outlets, O’Reilly no longer works on the Cardross Estate and some claim he no longer works in the gamekeeping industry.

2. We asked the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association whether O’Reilly was a member of the SGA, and if so, has he now been booted out. They have issued the following statement, which seems to carefully avoid answering the question:

SGA RESPONSE

Responding to the sentencing of a former gamekeeper, who used an illegal gin trap to catch a buzzard, a spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “This is the first we have heard about this case but, as an organisation, we are appalled. These actions have no place in modern gamekeeping and show ignorance of the legal requirements which are involved in being in the profession. They are an affront to all those who advocate high standards and take their responsibilities seriously and with care.”

END

Actually, O’Reilly’s criminal activities didn’t show ignorance of the legal requirements; according to the press statement issued by the Crown Office yesterday, O’Reilly had undertaken the snaring course (run by either GWCT or SGA) legally required for anyone wanting to set snares in Scotland. He’d passed the course so he wasn’t ignorant, he just chose to blatantly disregard the law.

We’re still interested in whether O’Reilly was an SGA member at the time he committed these offences. If you’re also interested, you too can email them again: info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk

3. We asked Scottish Land & Estates whether the Cardross Estate was a member of their organisation and if so, had it now been booted out.

They haven’t yet made a public statement, although they did respond to a private email from one of our blog readers by saying that the Cardross Estate resigned from their organisation in 2012.

4. We asked Environment Minister Dr Aileen Mcleod when the Scottish Government will publish the recently completed Wildlife Crime Penalties Review, in light of the pathetic sentence given to O’Reilly for his barbaric crimes. One of her civil servants has issued an acknowledgement email, saying someone will respond soon.

On a related note, there’s an article here with further details about why the Sheriff didn’t give O’Reilly a more fitting punishment. It includes a suggestion from O’Reilly’s defence agent that the gamekeeper was ‘under pressure from above’. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Crown Office decides to go for a vicarious liability prosecution.

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16 Responses to “Update on convicted gin trap gamekeeper James O’Reilly”


  1. 1 Dave Dick
    May 21, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    “As a gamekeeper you are given the right to carry out actions that cause animals real suffering. You are given that right under strict conditions on the kinds of traps that you can use and the methods you can use, and the steps that you have to take to ensure that suffering is kept to a limit.”..from the Sheriff’s statement in court..

    So that’s what a keepers job is then..they’re employed to cause animals real suffering. Nice to know isnt it…

  2. 2 Dave Dick
    May 21, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    I see from their website that Cardross Estate was the venue for the BASC Game Fair 2003 – 2011; not exactly separate from the shooting industry then?

  3. 3 Bimbliing
    May 21, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Its clear that he wasn’t a SGA member.

    If he had been he would surely have pleaded Not Guilty and would have ‘fully cooperated in the investigation’ by answering every police question with the stock ‘no comment’ as advised by SGA legal people.

    And then there probably wouldn’t be a successful prosecution, or sentencing to argue over, for that matter.

  4. 4 michael gill
    May 21, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Under the a vicarious liability prosecution law, this defense:

    “The area of land where these offences occurred is let on a long-term lease to a third party who has full rights and responsibilities for the management of sporting activity. The gamekeeper is employed by the third party and has never been employed by the estate.”

    is specifically disallowed.

    Let’s see eh?

  5. 7 Mr Greer Hart, senior
    May 21, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    With this case in mind, and plenty of others of a similar kind, surely we should all be making contact with the SNP and asking them to forget about abstaining from voting on the repeal of the Hunting Act. There is a massive support for curbing the powers of those who own land which is being used for hunting activities, and which are in conflict with the modern outlook against any form of animal abuse. We are never going to win the battle to free the landscapes of Britain from excessive and cruel hunting. Are we going to allow the Conservatives to restore otter, fox, hare and deer hunting with dogs, and probably condone badger baiting, cock fighting and dog fighting? O, and why not import bears and reopen the bear baiting pit that used to exist at Westminster? Also, bull baiting with dogs? When our hunting types went to Australia they imported the fox so they could keep up their tally hoing, however, they found a better prey, the Australian Aborigine, whom they hunted to extinction in certain areas, like Tasmania, along with strychnine poisoning them, just like they do with our Birds of Prey and other “vermin” today.

    It has been said that Ms Nicola Sturgeon does not want blood sports back in Scotland, so she should renege on her promise to stand aside with this threat of an appeal, and unleash her 56 “dogs” as a great nail in the coffin of this obscene form of a pseudo-sport. The Conservatives mostly exist for sustaining the anachronistic rural activities of their backers. Meantime, we should still be campaigning against those sporting estates who will not comply with the law, and resolutely aim eventually to close them down with land reforms, or is their grip too strong through their connections with all the processes that should be more proactive in prosecuting them and giving prison sentences? Are are we going to remain a talking shop to let off steam, when we could be marshalling public and international support that could shame our politicians to finally deal effectively with this cruel persecution of our bird and other willdlife?

  6. 10 Dave
    May 22, 2015 at 12:11 am

    I hate the euphemism ‘sporting’ for shooting

  7. May 22, 2015 at 8:44 am

    CARDROSS ESTATE REFUTES WILDLIFE CRIME ALLEGATIONS

    (Issued on behalf of Cardross Estate)

    Cardross Estate today issued the following statement after the conviction and sentencing of a gamekeeper at Stirling Sheriff Court on offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

    Sir Archie Orr Ewing, owner of Cardross Estate, said: “The reputation of the estate has been unjustly tarnished by the publicity around these court proceedings. The estate does not have any involvement whatsoever in the sporting management of the land in question. The area of land where these offences occurred is let on a long-term lease to a third party who has full rights and responsibilities for the management of sporting activity. The gamekeeper is employed by the third party and has never been employed by the estate.

    “Having co-operated fully with the authorities during their investigation and having been asked to be a prosecution witness, I am bitterly disappointed that the Crown Office did not see fit to clarify the estate’s position in its public statement following the case.”

    “Cardross Estate is an estate that takes its land management responsibilities very seriously and is a business focused on the local community and the delivery of sustainable rural enterprise. In particular, we are committed to contributing to the tourism offering of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.”

    Sir Archie Orr Ewing
    Cardross Estate
    Port of Menteith,
    Stirling FK8 3JY

    • 12 Merlin
      May 22, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      With respect many of us have heard these kind of denials time and time again, then twelve months or two years down the line another bird is found. Surely your tenants have breached the terms of their agreement and can have their tenancy revoked, what a way to restore the name of the estate and make a stand against the criminality involved in this sport.

  8. 15 Pip
    May 24, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    One has to feel a great deal of sympathy for Archie – to have so much land, rent it out to some jokers and then have to deny all your responsibilities and then be criticised for it – shame really for an otherwise jolly good egg and pillar of the establishment etc, etc.
    Pip

  9. 16 emily
    August 17, 2015 at 1:17 am

    maybe we should be looking closely at whoever is renting the shooting rights on the estate(GC) and not the unfortunate gamekeeper that has to take the rap for his employer’s bad practice. and as for the land owners not knowing what is going on, as if !!


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