25
Jan
17

Vicarious liability prosecution: Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate), part 13

Criminal proceedings continued yesterday (24 January 2017) 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 appeal was rejected 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.

Hearing #9 (2 August 2016): Proceedings moved to trial. Intermediate diet scheduled for 15 November 2016 and provisional trial date set for 7/8 December 2016.

Hearing #10 (15 November 2016): The case was adjourned for another intermediate diet scheduled for 22 November 2016. Trial date of 7/8 December 2016 is dumped.

Hearing #11 (22 November 2016): The case was adjourned for yet another intermediate diet, scheduled for 6 December 2016.

Hearing #12 (6 December 2016): The case was adjourned for yet another intermediate diet, scheduled for 24 January 2017. A provisional trial date (this will be the third time a trial date has been assigned) is scheduled for 24 April 2017.

Hearing #13 (24 January 2017): Guess what? The case was adjourned for another intermediate diet, scheduled for 11 April 2017. As far as we know, the provisional trial date of 24 April still stands although this could change depending on what happens at the intermediate diet on 11 April.

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 five years ago on 1st January 2012. To date there have been two successful prosecutions/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).

UPDATE 11 April 2017: The Crown Office has dropped all proceedings (see here).

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19 Responses to “Vicarious liability prosecution: Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate), part 13”


  1. 1 against feudalism
    January 25, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    And so it drags on ? I wonder how much this prevarication is costing the country, and will court time be charged ‘if’ found guilty ?

    Here is another blogs look at this sorry tail,

    [Ed: Hi against feudalism, the rest of your comment has been deleted as the blog you linked to does not relate to alleged raptor persecution offences on the Newlands Estate]

  2. 2 crypticmirror
    January 25, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    “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 “

    Without commenting on the rights or wrongs of this case or any other, this is why we need land reform which includes a responsibility to have a clear management structure just like every other sector. We must always know who to sue or prosecute. No industry or business should be allowed to, through obfustication deliberate or otherwise, be able to hide who is legally responsible for it. Land reform to ensure clear legal liability and clear ownership is essential to democracy.

  3. January 25, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Vicarious liability is the only way these people will be stopped, the landowners will make sure they know what is going on in future in their own back yard.

  4. 6 Nimby
    January 25, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    One might try hard to have respect for the judiciary, but this saga beggars belief and simply reaffirms the call for land reform etc.?

    …. & can only dream that the rest of the UK catch up with the Scottish pace (ok never fast enough) England is still feudal?

    I salute your tenacity, keep up the pressure.

  5. 8 Tony Warburton MBE
    January 25, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    From the sublime to the ridiculous. This is simply unbelievable –

    [Ed: rest of this comment deleted – it’s libellous]

  6. January 26, 2017 at 1:24 am

    Surely someone will be held to account for these delays; not being party to the court proceedings I’m in no real position to judge but from the outside these delays seem disproportionate.

    • 10 heclasu
      January 26, 2017 at 2:30 am

      Possibly the lawyers – stringing it out! As well as land reform we need ‘no win, no fee’ for all court cases however big or small.

  7. 11 Nimby
    January 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    So as the proceedings approach eighteen months, with the court case remaining scheduled for 24 April 2017 after a dozen attempts to delay/prevent/throw out will the Scottish Judiciary deliver or will they further prevaricate and if so then on what grounds? Surely any grounds for delay must be made publicly available? If the judiciary are not able to deal with alleged law breakers then who is, Parliament? Excellent publicity for criminal (justice) credibility?

  8. 12 Winston Roberts
    January 26, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I contacted Dumfries Sheriff Court to ask about the matter but they did not have anything on file for why a further ID was set. I then contacted the Dumfries and Galloway (DnG 24) newsdesk to ask if they had a court reporter who knew about the case. That message was passed on and I was contacted by their court reporter Bert Houston. Bert advised that a further ID was set because the court needs to arrange a suitable trial date as the trial is expected to last 5 days. Bert also thought, though he was unsure, that the trial date had been moved to July. If someone wanted to double check then they could call Dumfries Sheriff Court and ask. I imagine Bert will be in court again at the ID and if anyone was genuinely interested in finding out what happened then they could contact the newsdesk to find out (rather than post ignorant comments about lawyers ‘stringing it out’ and conspiracy theories). All this information is available if you take the effort to investigate and it is a matter of public record. If you were that keen you could go to Dumfries Sheriff Court and see the proceedings for yourself.

    • 13 heclasu
      January 27, 2017 at 2:26 am

      Nothing ‘ignorant’ at all about my comment – it happens.

      • 14 Winston Roberts
        January 27, 2017 at 10:48 am

        Heclasu your comment is ignorant because:

        1 – this is a criminal case and it is the Sheriff who decides at each hearing if it is to be continued or not – not the lawyers
        2 – the Procurator Fiscal has no incentive to keep continuing the case. The defence solicitor may be incentivised to continue the case to make a larger fee but again it is the Sheriff who decides and the Sheriff won’t postpone unless there is merit to do so.

        Also, your point that there should be a no win, no fee basis for all court cases is completely ridiculous. How would lawyers be paid when a client wishes to plead guilty to an offence?

  9. 15 Nimby
    January 26, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    This is a useful update WR, thanks for providing it. As a Sassenach I am simply observing the proceedings with interest.

    Another issue for me is why there is this continued run of IDs without any explanation of rationale? If there is a requirement for five days for the trial then this was surely known when the April trial date was set in the first instance? Another naive question, who is footing the bill for this prevarication? And, is it recoverable?

    • 16 Winston Roberts
      January 27, 2017 at 10:57 am

      Nimby – the case was continued so often because of Billy Dick’s appeal. The result of which may have significance in this case so it was understandable that this case be continued until that appeal was decided. After this, I don’t know why the case was continued so many times. I only know of the latest reason when I spoke to Bert Houston.

      The Procurator Fiscal is tax payer funded and the defence solicitor is likely to be paid by the accused privately (although it may be possible to obtain legal aid but in this instance I don’t think that is the case). The appearances at court to continue the matter would probably last no more than 5 minutes as it is generally a very brief process. The tax payer money spent is generally not recoverable. If the accused is found guilty then a fine may be imposed and this will go back into the tax payer ‘pot’ as it were.

      • 17 Nimby
        January 27, 2017 at 8:11 pm

        Thanks again WR, helpful to be reminded of the awaited appeal.

        If found guilty in due course then I hope the fine reflects the crime and court time etc. Hope also that it is of a magnitude which sends out a clear message.


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