Trial against gamekeeper Neil Wainwright gets underway

scales-of-justiceThe trial against Shropshire gamekeeper Neil Wainwright got underway on Tuesday.

Wainwright, 55, of Norbury, Bishop’s Castle, is accused of baiting a Larsen trap with live quail to catch birds of prey. The offences are alleged to have taken place at Birch Hill Wood in Gatten, Stipperstones, in July 2014. Wainwright has denied these charges, but at an earlier hearing pled guilty to three other charges relating the storage of firearms, ammunition and poison (see here and here).

According to an article published yesterday in the Shropshire Star (see below), Wainwright’s defence is that he was using the Larsen to trap a mink, not birds of prey.

We always enjoy reading the far-fetched explanations of gamekeepers who have been accused of alleged wildlife crimes. Rarely plausible, they often push the boundaries of credibility. Recently-convicted Kildrummy Estate gamekeeper George Mutch’s explanation was a classic – he claimed he’d killed the goshawk he’d caught in his Larsen trap as a mercy mission because it was injured. The Sheriff in that case called it “a convenient lie”. Recently-convicted Swinton Estate gamekeeper Ryan Waite claimed the two illegal pole traps he’d set were for targeting squirrels, not raptors. Recently-convicted Stody Estate gamekeeper Allen Lambert claimed the 11 poisoned raptors found on his estate had been dumped there by someone with a vendetta against him.

It’s not just gamekeepers, either.

Following the discovery last month of 16 fox cubs found inside a barn in North Yorkshire in suspicious circumstances, Lord Middleton, a local landowner and hunstman reportedly suggested that the cubs ‘were being cared for by the Hunt for kind reasons’ (see here).

Wainwright’s trial will continue on 29th June 2015.

The Shropshire Star published an article yesterday about the first day of the trial although the article has now vanished from their website. Here’s a copy:

From Shropshire Star 17 June 2015

Neil Gordon Wainwright a gamekeeper used a metal Larsen trap designed to catch magpies, crows and jays he had baited with two live white quail to catch birds of prey at Birch Hill Wood in Gatten, near the Stiperstones, Shrewsbury, Magistrates Court were told by the RSPB. An inspector for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds noticed the trap while walking on a public way and set up two covert cameras to record who came to attend to it.

Wainwright, 55, of Norbury, near Bishop’s Castle, denies charges of using a trap to kill or take a wild bird, possessing an article capable of being used to commit an offence, and failing to take steps to ensure that the needs of an animal were met.

The offences are said to have taken place between July 21 and 31 last year.

District judge Kevin Grego heard yesterday that an RSPB inspector had visited Birch Hill Wood on July 23 and believed that an offence was being committed.

Mr Richard Davenport, prosecuting, told the court that the inspector noticed that a Larsen trap had been baited with two white quails and set close to a pheasant release pen.

Howard Jones, RSPB inspector, said he had been walking on a public right of way when he saw the pheasant pen. He found the Larsen trap and then returned a day later to install the cameras.

Mr Jones said he and another inspector had checked the footage and over the course of several days the defendant was seen going to the trap.

At one point Wainwright was seen with a dead buzzard in his hands. The incidents were reported to the police and a warrant to search Wainwright’s home and outbuildings was carried out on August 5. Expert witness Dr Rodney Calvert, from Natural England and a specialist on trapping, said he had never known of a Larsen trap being used to catch anything other than crows or magpies.

Wainwright’s defence is that he was using the trap to catch mink and stoats which had been taking his game birds.

Dr Calvert said that using live quail as bait would not attract such animals but would be likely to attract wild birds.

Wainwright, who has several captive peregrine falcons and an owl at his home, said he had used the quail as bait “as an act of desperation”. He said he had been targeted by a mink and had decided to bait the trap to try and catch it.

The trial was adjourned until June 29 and will be heard at Telford Magistrates Court.


7 Responses to “Trial against gamekeeper Neil Wainwright gets underway”

  1. 1 Dave Dick
    June 18, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    My favourite excuse was when after a poisoned bait was found on his land, the landowner told the RSPB..”it must have been a jogger, we get them all the time..”!! A year later his gamekeeper was convicted of using poison baits [and trapping and firearms offences]…

    • 2 Anand Prasad
      June 18, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Dick, when is the sequel to your book ‘The Making of an Investigations Officer’ coming out?

      • 3 Dave Dick
        June 19, 2015 at 2:07 pm

        When more people buy it!…theres no money in it Anand and as a pensioner I cant afford to do another…actually, Ive said all that was needed in that book..any biographical follow up would be a description of the further decline of meaningful joined up investigative work due to successful lobbying of SGA and allied landowners organisations/continuing lack of support from within conservation organisations/political cowardice from our parliamentary representatives and failure of our justice system. Im not interested in writing a miserable book – we can all see [if we read this blog regularly] where the problems are – Wildlife Crime was about a time when we showed the justice system how wildlife can be helped by real partnership working and actually using our hard won Laws. For the reasons given above, that was destroyed by the criminals and their apologists.

  2. 4 Jimmy
    June 18, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Being a consumate liar appears to be one the most important tricks of the trade when it comes to working on many shooting estates these days

  3. 6 Giles
    June 19, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    My mother used to live in the area where this individual comes from. It’s extremely “local” (as in League of Gents) so this case doesn’t surprise me in the least, nor does his pathetic excuse for what he did.
    Pigeon “fanciers” in the same area also (allegedly) poisoned 2 peregrines nesting in a quarry a couple of years ago. Not just gamekeepers who are raptor haters.

  4. 7 Me
    June 25, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Wouldn’t it be good if animals/birds of prey etc had the same privilege in the eyes of the “law” as an alleged offender when dealing with such matters ie ” innocent until proven guilty ” as it would appear that any animal/ bird of prey etc which needs to kill other animals to stay alive ,is in the right place at the right time,is killed in order that another species can survive to provide ” people ” with an alleged “sport ” May be before killing them ” just to be on the safe side” they should provide physical evidence ( photographic/ video) to show that particular animal/ bird of prey were responsible for causing the death of “game birds” on their land.Yeh wouldn’t that be good ? Only thing is many birds of prey are meant to be “protected” in the eyes of the “law” and shouldn’t be the subject of illegal killing by the use of illegal,traps,poison’s,cages ie by what ever means possible and shouldn’t need to prove their innocence,although it would be great to hear what their excuses were for killing ” game birds”
    May be the following ” I took it for a Chicken,My Lord”…”It seemed injured,My Lady,and I was putting it out of its misery” …”It just flew straight into my tallons,My Lord”….”I set my “traps” for slugs and returned to find the bird(a Pheasant) instead,your Honor”

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