Criminal proceedings continued on 2 August 2016 against landowner Andrew Walter Bryce Duncan, who is alleged to be vicariously liable for the crimes committed by gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick in April 2014.
Gamekeeper Dick was convicted in August 2015 of killing a buzzard on the Newlands Estate, Dumfriesshire by striking it with rocks and repeatedly stamping on it (see here). Mr Dick was sentenced in September 2015 and was given a £2000 fine (see here). Mr Dick attempted to appeal his conviction but this was refused on 15 July 2016 (see here).
Here’s a quick review of the proceedings against Andrew Duncan so far:
Hearing #1 (18th August 2015): Trial date set for 23rd Nov 2015, with an intermediate diet scheduled for 20th Oct 2015.
Hearing #2 (20th October 2015): Case adjourned. November trial date dumped. Notional diet hearing (where a trial date may be set) scheduled for 18th January 2016.
Hearing #3 (18th January 2016): Case adjourned. Another notional diet & debate scheduled for 11th March 2016.
Hearing #4 (11th March 2016): Case adjourned, pending the result of gamekeeper Billy Dick’s appeal. Another notional diet scheduled for 4th April 2016.
Hearing #5 (4th April 2016): Case adjourned, pending the result of gamekeeper Billy Dick’s appeal. Another notional diet scheduled for 3rd June 2016.
Hearing #6 (3rd June 2016): Case adjourned, pending the result of gamekeeper Billy Dick’s appeal. Another notional diet scheduled for 17th June 2016.
Hearing #7 (17th June 2016): Case adjourned, pending the result of gamekeeper Billy Dick’s appeal. Another notional diet scheduled for 15th July 2016.
Hearing #8 (15 July 2016): Case adjourned. Another notional diet scheduled for 2 August 2016.
At hearing #9 yesterday (2 August), the proceedings moved to trial. An intermediate diet is scheduled for 15 November 2016 (this is a short hearing where the court determines that both the prosecution and defence are prepared for trial). If the intermediate diet goes smoothly, the actual trial has been set for 7th & 8th December 2016.
Vicarious liability in relation to the persecution of raptors in Scotland (where one person may potentially be legally responsible for the criminal actions of another person working under their supervision) came in to force over four and a half years ago on 1st January 2012. To date there have been two successful convictions: one in December 2014 (see here) and one in December 2015 (see here). One further case did not reach the prosecution stage due, we believe, to the difficulties associated with identifying the management structure on the estate where the crimes were committed (see here).
Following gamekeeper Mr Dick’s failed appeal in July 2016 (see here), we posed a number of questions. These are still to be answered:
- Is/was criminal gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association? The SGA refused to comment on Mr Dick’s membership status at the time, saying they ‘wanted to wait until the legal process had concluded’. Well, now Mr Dick’s criminal conviction for wildlife offences has been upheld, how about answering the question? Emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Will Scottish Land & Estates now expel the Newlands Estate from the ranks of SLE membership? SLE said at the time that Newlands Estate’s membership of SLE had been ‘voluntarily suspended’ pending on-going legal proceedings. Well, now the gamekeeper’s criminal conviction for wildlife offences has been upheld, how about answering the question? Emails to: email@example.com
- Will the Newlands Estate’s accredited membership of Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) now be revoked? The conditions of membership of this scheme include: “the requirements to maintain best practice standards of animal welfare and comply with all legal requirements and relevant Scottish codes of practice”. At the time of Mr Dick’s conviction, a spokesperson for WES said the Newlands Estate’s membership and accreditation of WES had been ‘voluntary suspended’ pending the outcome of legal proceedings. Well, now the gamekeeper’s criminal conviction for wildlife offences has been upheld, how about answering the question? Emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll also be watching closely to see whether the Newlands Estate will now be subject to a General Licence Restriction from SNH. If you recall, this restriction may be imposed by SNH where evidence of raptor crime is apparent and it has been available as a sanction for offences committed since 1 January 2014. Mr Dick killed the buzzard on Newlands Estate in April 2014. Although, even if the GL restriction is put in place, the estate can easily side-step it by applying for an ‘individual’ licence instead (e.g. see here).
Had there been a gamebird licensing scheme in place, the Newlands Estate could now have been facing a temporary ban on pheasant shooting for a number of months/years. At the moment, no such licensing scheme exists, but a petition has recently been launched by the Scottish Raptor Study Group, asking the Scottish Government to introduce such a licensing scheme. You can sign the petition HERE