16
Mar
16

Crown Office drops prosecution against Glenogil Estate gamekeeper

Snared fox dead alt, Glenogil Estate, Credit OneKindRegular blog readers will know we’ve been following the case of Scottish gamekeeper William Curr, who had been charged last year with alleged snaring offences on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens, said to have occurred in September 2014 (see here, here, here and here).

The charges related to allegations that several snares had not been checked (as they are required to be) within a 24-hour period of being set, after a field officer from the charity OneKind had discovered a dead snared deer, a dead snared fox and another snared fox that was still alive but had to be euthanised at the scene due to the extent of its horrific injuries (see OneKind photo).

For a harrowing description of what was found on Glenogil Estate, including a confrontation with the Head Gamekeeper, read this blog on the OneKind website.

Curr’s trial was due to start on 9th May but last week (10 March) the Crown Office informed the court that it was not going to proceed. OneKind has not yet been able to ascertain the reason for this decision, and in fact may never find out because the Crown Office is under no obligation to explain.

Accountability and transparency, anybody?

To quote from the OneKind blog:

OneKind is mystified by the dropping of this case, given the eye witness evidence, the horrific video footage and the detailed follow-up investigation carried out by the Scottish SPCA. This was a shocking incident where at least six people, including gamekeepers, witnessed the terror and pain of a live fox as the wire noose of a snare sliced into its abdomen. Had our research officer not been on the estate on that particular day, who knows how much longer the fox would have continued to suffer?

To put this dreadful story in the wider context: snares are still legal in Scotland and the rest of the UK. It is simply intolerable that the suffering this fox endured should be considered legally acceptable. The video footage is utterly harrowing and illustrates an animal which is clearly distressed, both physically and mentally. OneKind has long called for an outright ban on all snares and sadly we feel these calls have been justified by this case.

OneKind will seek an explanation for the failure of the Scottish justice system to bring this animal welfare case to court“.

The reason we’ve been so interested in this case is because the alleged offences occurred on the Glenogil Estate, one of several grouse shooting estates in the Angus Glens where wildlife crime incidents keep cropping up but have never resulted in a successful prosecution. For example, here are some incidents reported from in and around Glenogil over the last ten years:

2006 March: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 April: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 April: poisoned tawny owl (Alphachloralose). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 June: poisoned woodpigeon bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 June: Traces of Carbofuran found in estate vehicles & on equipment during police search. Not listed in 2006 RSPB annual report but reported here. (Now former) estate owner John Dodd had £107k withdrawn from his farm subsidy payments as a result. This was being appealed but it is not known how this was resolved. Also a write up in RSPB 2007 annual report. No prosecution.

2007 November, Glenogil Estate: Disappearance of radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Bird N’ coincides with tip off to police that bird been shot. No further transmissions or sightings of the bird. Not listed in RSPB annual report but reported here. No prosecution.

2008 May: poisoned white-tailed eagle ‘White G’ (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 May: poisoned buzzard (Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 May: poisoned mountain hare bait (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 May: 32 x poisoned meat baits on fenceposts (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 October: poisoned meat bait on fencepost (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2009 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2009 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2009 August: poisoned white-tailed eagle “89” (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 May: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 September: poisoned buzzard (Chloralose). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 October: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 October: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 October: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2012 April: Remains of buzzard found beside pheasant pen. Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2014 June: shot buzzard. Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

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20 Responses to “Crown Office drops prosecution against Glenogil Estate gamekeeper”


  1. 1 Julie Wright
    March 16, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Absolutely disgusting, I’d like to know why they’ve dropped this case, seems very fishy to me, especially when there is video footage and witnesses, another reason to boycott visiting Scotland until they start taking Wildlife Crime seriously.

  2. 2 Chris Davies
    March 16, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I agree with Julie. I want the crown office shamed and pursued for answers. I want answers. I do not ask, I demand.

  3. 3 Ed
    March 16, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Whats the point in having laws if they’re ignored?

  4. March 16, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Lack of transparency inevitably leads to speculation..speculation leads to accusations, rightly or wrongly. Let me join the speculation. If you are a gamekeeper accused of a crime in Scotland you will almost certainly have the backing of a rich landowner and his affiliated organisations. A rich landowner can afford a QC to defend his gamekeeper and his estate’s reputation..[although were well beyond that here I would say!..these situations are now about trying to defend grouse shooting from parliamentary “interference”]. So the Crown looks very hard at the case, they may even have been contacted by said QC, who points out some big loophole in the law ..perhaps regarding the gathering of the evidence or even the wording of anti-snaring law..the Crown decides the easier option is not to risk an embarrassing drubbing in court..and marks the case “No Proceedings”. In which case we will never know what the problem was..and cant fix it..and so, on the killing and cruelty goes…

    As I say..its all mere speculation.

  5. March 16, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Snares need to be banned completely. There can be no justification for these indiscriminate and barbaric devices.

  6. 6 Secret Squirrel
    March 16, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Just out of curiosity, who owns Glenogil Estate?

  7. 8 Chris Roberts
    March 16, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    We keep hearing about the disgusting treatment of elephants, rhinos etc. in Africa and birds being decimated in Malta, unfortunately Scotland is no better at how we treat our wildlife. Also the perpetrators of these crimes are beyond the law and get off scot free.

    • 9 Jimmy
      March 16, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      Too true – the UK is a banana republic when it comes to indulging the disgusting behaviour of these shooting estates

  8. 10 Karl Moore
    March 16, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    This is typical of how wildlife crime is viewed in the eyes of the law.
    If you have money and influence you are above the law and the cruelty continues

  9. 11 keen birder
    March 17, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Its not just Scotland, snares are in every County in this Country. Proof of checking within 24 hours is rather difficult, even if the fox had such injuries, its typical of snaring. Probably would have to witness it alive ,then witness it again, later, then proof would be that it had not been checked. But then the officers would probably be criticized The defendants would always say they had checked them. There must be hundreds of snares that are not looked at each day, no doubt about that. Its not only big Estates where they are set, they are anywhere.

    • March 17, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      This wholly supports the view of Accidental Activist above – snares are appalling and should be banned completely.

      How did anyone ever think this was an acceptable way to treat vulnerable sentient creatures?

      Man traps were banned years ago, I think – how is snaring other animals any better?

  10. 13 dave angel
    March 17, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    The article suggests that the charges related to the snares not being checked every 24 hours, rather than the snares not being properly set. If that’s the case then unless there was direct, admissible evidence (rather than supposition or inference) to show the snares hadn’t been checked then it’s maybe not surprising that the charges were dropped.
    The fact though that a properly set snare could cause such apparently prolonged suffering is a strong argument for the practice to be banned entirely or at least further restricted.

    • 14 Adam
      March 17, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      What is a bit surprising though that it seems that when the case was marked someone at COPFS thought that there was sufficient admissable evidence, but when a trial date was set a decision was made to mark the case ‘no further action’.

      If the OnKind officer is a witness in this case then he or she can request information regarding a ‘decision not to institute criminal proceedings against a person and any reasons for it’ as per section 6(7)(c) of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014.

        • 16 Adam
          March 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

          No probs. The form can be downloaded from here: http://copfs.gov.uk/images/Documents/Victims_and_Witnesses/applicationformjuly2015.doc
          More info: http://copfs.gov.uk/publications/victims-and-witnesses

          In light of the above you may wish to change “OneKind has not yet been able to ascertain the reason for this decision, and in fact may never find out because the Crown Office is under no obligation to explain” as it’s not entirely accurate.

          Unless if the case runs under the ‘supervision’ of a specialist unit, such as Wildlife & Environmental Crime Unit, it’s unlikely that the ‘Crown Office’ itself (which is the HQ of COPFS ) would have been involved in a decision not to proceed with a summary case. When it comes to summary cases procurator fiscals (and PF deputes) have considerable discretion as to how to proceed. It would be interesting to know who made the decision in this case.

          (Based on the information contained in the OneKind blog post it’s also surprising that there were proceedings in the first place, as it seems difficult to see how anything described in the blog would amount to sufficient corroborated evidence. But perhaps the blog omits certain details.)

  11. 17 jack black
    March 17, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Well done sspca…….this estate has an appalling past record. Wonder if having increased powers would have helped.
    Well do onekind .

    Copfs seem to have buckled once again.
    Yet again no mention of the police.

    Same old , same old…….

    And for those that say snares are restraining devices that cause no suffering……complete nonsense. BAN SNARES

  12. 18 keen birder
    March 17, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Snares that catch foxes around the waist are probably being set with too big a loop. It is unlikely to cause such a rip in the animal if checked every morning, if not checked then unimaginable cruelty will be caused to the fox. They will pull and pull as time goes on, if not an outright ban on them then tighter restrictions need to be imposed on their use. In Scotland the law requires a name tag on each snare, with the operators/farm/estate name. This needs to be done in the rest of Britain. I think its a matter of time before they are banned, but they are an incredibly effective way of catching foxes, and the shooting fraternity will fight tooth and nail to keep them, so I think they will be here yet for a few years. The worst thing about their use apart from using them is them not being checked each morning. They are also known as wires, go into a gun shop and ask for 10 wires,they will sell them, £2 each, they can only be used once, after catching they are so bent they cannot be re used.
    I once came across where a badger had been in a snare in a sandy loamy soiled wood, it had dug about a ton of earth up trying to get out. The snare had gone, but I knew what had been in. I once came across a fox snare set on the edge of a large pond, no doubt set for an otter, this was picked up.and I never saw another one there..

  13. 19 I C T
    March 18, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Swept under the carpet, by whom?!

  14. 20 Marco McGinty
    March 29, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    OneKind has produced an open letter calling on the Scottish Government to ban snaring, and I do think it is worth signing.

    http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=75&ea.campaign.id=49331


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