A Scottish gamekeeper who was recently convicted of killing a buzzard has been sentenced this morning.
William (Billy) Dick, 25, was convicted on 4th August 2015 of illegally killing the buzzard on the Newlands Estate in Dumfriesshire (see here). Two witnesses, alerted to the scene by the sound of gunshot, had observed him throwing rocks at a buzzard which was flailing on the ground, and then they observed him repeatedly stamping on the bird. They observed Dick wrapping something inside a coat and placing it inside his vehicle and then driving away. The carcass was never recovered but a dead hare, feathers and a blood-stained rock were found at the scene. DNA evidence from the feathers confirmed they came from a buzzard.
At Dumfries Sheriff Court this morning the sheriff told Dick that he believed Dick had killed the buzzard “to further the interests of your employer“.
Dick was fined £1,500 for killing the buzzard and a further £500 for possession of the dead buzzard.
Dick’s firearms certificate had been revoked but we understand this is being appealed tomorrow.
So, a £2,000 fine for offences that merit a maximum £5,000 fine and/or a six month custodial sentence. Had Dick pleaded not guilty this fine would have been even smaller (a reward for an early plea). It’s about time the Scottish Government published its commissioned report on wildlife crime penalties, which is already nine months overdue.
Well done to the SSPCA and Police Scotland for an effective investigation and congratulations to Procurator Fiscal Kate Fleming for a successful prosecution. Particularly well done to the two witnesses who reported their observations and were prepared to testify in court.
There is an on-going vicarious liability case relating to this crime (see here) and it’ll be interesting to see what happens in light of the sheriff’s comments in court this morning.
When we blogged about Dick’s conviction in August we asked the SGA whether Dick was one of their members. They refused to answer at the time, saying it would be inappropriate to comment until the case had concluded. Well, now it has concluded so let’s ask them again.
Emails to SGA: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear SGA, Is/was convicted gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick one of your members?
We also asked Scottish Land & Estates whether the Newlands Estate was one of their members. They didn’t respond. Let’s ask them again: email@example.com
Dear SLE, Is/was the Newlands Estate one of your members?
UPDATE 12.30hrs: COPFS press release here, with disturbing details of Dick’s actions.
UPDATE 13.30hrs: RSPB statement here
UPDATE 13.35hrs: BBC news article here, which indicates Dick may appeal his conviction. There’s also a quote from the SGA, once again refusing to comment on the membership status of Dick “until the legal process has concluded”. Why so coy?
UPDATE 18.50hrs: Turns out the Newlands Estate is a member of Scottish Land & Estates and the Wildlife Estates Scotland initiative – see here for blog post