28
Sep
17

Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper denies killing two peregrines in Bowland

A 34-year old gamekeeper, James Hartley, appeared at Preston Magistrates Court today to face a series of charges relating to the alleged killing of two peregrines on the Bleasdale Estate, Bowland, in April 2016.

The charges read out in court were as follows:

  1. Killing a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally killed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  2. Disturb the nesting site of a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally or recklessly disturbed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, while it was in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young, contrary to sections 1(5)(a) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  3. Killing a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally killed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  4. Set trap / gin / snare etc to cause injury to wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, set in position a trap which was of such a nature and so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild bird coming in to contact with it, contrary to sections 5(1)(a) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act.
  5. Take a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally took a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  6. Possess live / dead Schedule 1 wild bird or its parts. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, had in your possession or control a dead wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a peregrine falcon, contrary to sections 1(2)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act.
  7. Possess an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence under section 1 to 13 or 15-17. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, for the purpose of committing an offence, namely killing a Schedule 1 wild bird, namely a peregrine falcon, under section 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, had in your possession a firearm which was capable of being used for committing the offence, contrary to section 18(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  8. Possess an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence under section 1 to 13 or 15-17. On 12 April 2016 and 27 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, for the purpose of committing an offence, namely killing a Schedule 1 wild bird, namely a peregrine falcon, under section 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, had in your possession hammer, trap and knife which were capable of being used for committing the offence, contrary to section 18(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  9. Cause unnecessary suffering to a protected animal – Animal Welfare Act 2006. On 12 April 2016 and 15 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, caused unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, namely a peregrine falcon, by an act, namely trapping and leaving for a number of hours, and you knew or ought reasonably to have known that the act would have that effect or be likely to do so.

Mr Hartley denied all charges.

The following commentary has been compiled from notes we took during the hearing:

The lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service then summarised the prosecution case. She said the Crown’s case is that the defendant is responsible for the destruction of two birds at their nest site. She said the matter came to light when the RSPB sited a camera within the boundary of Bleasdale Estate to monitor nesting peregrines. The Crown alleges that camera footage captures an individual in a camouflage suit attending the nest site. The individual remained there for a number of minutes setting what is believed to be a trap. The female peregrine is seen to leave the nest and four shotgun discharges are heard and the female does not return. The male peregrine remained at the site all day, believed to be trapped in the device set earlier. Later in the evening a person is seen to attend the nest site and remove something.

She went on to explain that the defendant is the gamekeeper for this particular ‘beat’ on the Bleasdale Estate and during a police search of his property a bag was seized containing a number of tools. A forensic analysis showed that a wooden-handled hammer and an orange-handled knife both contained peregrine DNA. The defendant gave a ‘no comment’ interview.

The defence lawyer, Tim Ryan, told the court that his client did not carry out the offences and is not the person shown in the video footage. He said part of his defence case would be to question the admissibility of video evidence under section 78 of the Police & Criminal Evidence Act.

The next hearing will take place on 11 January 2018 which is expected to deal with legal arguments about the admissibility of video evidence. Depending on the outcome of that hearing, a preliminary trial date was set to begin on 12 February 2018 and is expected to last for five days.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments are welcome but contributors are reminded that the offences are only alleged at this stage and it is up to the court to determine innocence or guilt. Please consider your words carefully as libellous commentary could interfere with the progression of this case! Thanks.

UPDATE 10 January 2018: Case against Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper James Hartley: part 2 (here)

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34 Responses to “Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper denies killing two peregrines in Bowland”


  1. 1 chris lock
    September 29, 2017 at 5:32 am

    [Ed: comment deleted as libellous]

  2. September 29, 2017 at 8:05 am

    [Ed: comment deleted as libellous]

  3. September 29, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Whatever the outcome of this case, the nonsense about video evidence being admissible or not has to be addressed by law. At present, it makes a mockery of the very word “evidence” when an individual is clearly shown to be doing something yet the law says it cannot take that into account.

  4. September 29, 2017 at 8:08 am

    As reported, his responses show that he has adhered to “gamekeeper training” perfectly.

  5. 5 stuart law
    September 29, 2017 at 8:25 am

    [Ed: comment deleted as libellous]

  6. 6 Peter Hack
    September 29, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Clearly CCTV is used as evidence and quite often; what is the difference ? xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx and why does [the defence] question the use of cameras which are used in all sorts of police cases from speeding cars etc etc? Does the defence agree with the sue of cameras in speediing prosecutions or the apprehension of thieves? Why is this so different; the arrogance of these people to law enforcement defies belief.

    [Ed: comment slightly moderated. To be fair, it’s the job of the defence to challenge evidence, whatever type of evidence that may be. Without yet knowing the whole detail of this case, or the specifics of the evidence in this specific case, we shouldn’t be accusing the defence of being arrogant. But agree, the issue surrounding the admissibility of video evidence in general, needs to be addressed].

    • 7 Secret Squirrel
      October 2, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      It comes down to how the evidence is collected and whether or not it falls within the definitions of ‘fair’ (That’s what S78 of PACE covers). Police etc will have adhered to PACE Codes and RIPA, the contesting of non-Police evidnece usually is based on the premise that it was not obtained fairly by an investigatory body not complying with the relevant codes. be interesting to see if that’s the line he takes.

      My knowledge of PACE is a little outdated

  7. 8 Pheasant beater
    September 29, 2017 at 8:52 am

    It’s not a surprise that the accused is a gamekeeper.

  8. 9 Jonathan Wallace
    September 29, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Whether or not Hartley is guilty of the offence is the question that the trial is required to answer and we shall have to wait until next year for the answer to that. There is no question, though, that an offence has taken place (whoever the perpetrator was) and it would be good to see the shooting press, the various shooting organisations and other members of the ‘great and the good’ (hollow laugh) in the shooting community condemning that fact. Sadly what we are likely to see instead is faux outrage at RSPB investigation methods.

  9. 10 Dylanben
    September 29, 2017 at 9:02 am

    If, as claimed by the defence, it wasn’t him in the video, what are they concerned about? Whoever it was that did it, it shows what they’re up to when they think that nobody is watching. If the North Yorkshire Marsh Harrier persecution case gets this far, it will be interesting to see whether the number of charges matches the string of alleged offences listed here. MA/CA/NGO/BASC etc. comments awaited on both cases.

  10. September 29, 2017 at 9:05 am

    If birds of prey are subject to continued persecution on shooting estates, whether the culprits are found guilty or not, driven bird shooting is the cause and should be stopped. If not, the law of “vicarious liability” must be invoked so that estate owners and managers must be held responsible for the behaviour of their employees, the gamekeepers. A few lords and ladies up before the beak may end this blatant disregard for our laws.

    • 12 michael gill
      September 29, 2017 at 9:26 am

      The law of “vicarious liability” only applies in Scotland

      However, I don’t understand … if the defence says that it is not their client in the video, why question its admissibility? Surely, they should want the court to see it, so they can then say, “look, it’s not him”

      • September 29, 2017 at 5:16 pm

        But I am suggesting that, if illegal behaviour continues it should be implemented in England. Vicarious liability is nothing new. It has been part of Health and Safety law for decades.

      • 14 crypticmirror
        September 30, 2017 at 12:21 am

        That was the twist in an episode of Law and Order. The judge in it said the defense could admit it was themselves and then question its admissibility and gamble on whether or not the judge would rule it in or out, or they could deny it was them in it, thus not having standing to challenge it, and have to challenge it on the cross-examination. I forget how the episode turned out though, it was one of the earlier ones when Sam Waterston still looked hot.

        That wandering anecdote is irrelevant to this case, but I wanted to contribute and couldn’t think of anything I could say that would not be libellous.

  11. 15 Tim Dixon
    September 29, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Whilst I fully understand the reticence regarding not prejudicing this prosecution it would be good to know (perhaps in due course) something about the Bleasdale Estate. Any previous incidents, owners/managers, driven grouse moor etc.

  12. 16 stuart law
    September 29, 2017 at 10:00 am

    [Ed: comment deleted as libellous]

  13. 17 stuart law
    September 29, 2017 at 10:40 am

    I sincerely hope the video footage is allowed to stand and xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx. I feel that it is in the interest of the general public, who have often asked why no case has never been proven in a Court of Law. This would surely be the difference between one verdict or the other. If it is not allowed as evidence? xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

    [Ed: “….who have often asked why no case has never been proven in a court of law”. What on earth are you on about? There have been a number of cases where video evidence has helped secure a conviction. And please, STOP inferring that the defendant in this case is guilty. It’s for the court to decide]

    • 18 stuart law
      September 29, 2017 at 11:06 am

      I see the detail I missed now, sorry. It should have read (I should have said) who have often asked why no case has never been proven in a court of law in the Forest of Bowland. And I feel the video evidence is key to the outcome of the case. If there have been any such cases of conviction in the Forest of Bowland then I have surely missed it/them.

  14. 19 dave angel
    September 29, 2017 at 10:52 am

    ‘Tim Ryan is a criminal and regulatory defence specialist, who acts for privately-paying clients’

    https://www.warners-solicitors.co.uk/people/tim-ryan/

    So who is paying him? I doubt a gamekeeper could afford the fees.

    • 20 Tim Dixon
      September 29, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      That’s why, as per my previous reply, it would be interesting to know who owns/manages the estate.

      • September 29, 2017 at 1:28 pm

        Ownership & management may be two different things.

        The owner of Bleasdale Estate, which includes a 3,000 acre grouse moor, is Jeremy Duckworth, who was a regional representative of the Moorland Association from 2008-2016, and also a Director of the Moorland Assocation from 12 May 2014 until he resigned on 26 September 2016.

        However, there is also a pheasant and partridge shoot, extending to 2,970 acres, which is believed to be leased to a third party.

        As we don’t know the exact location of the peregrine nest site at the centre of this case, and the fact that the trial is yet to take place, it would be unwise to infer management responsibility on anybody.

  15. 22 Sabrina
    September 29, 2017 at 11:29 am

    [Ed: Thanks, Sabrina. Interesting, but perhaps not appropriate to publish this at the moment. When the trial has concluded would probably be better. Thanks]

  16. 23 Michael Haden
    September 29, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    I notice that the NGO aren’t covering this on their website but they did cover a case of two people hare coursing. It would be interesting to hear their view adult why a gamekeeper has [allegedly] equipment with peregrine DNA on it [allegedly] as to what conservation job he was doing when that [allegedly] happened.

  17. September 29, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    [Ed: comment deleted as libellous]

  18. 27 Joe Boyle
    September 29, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    What we can be sure of is……someone killed those peregrines.

    [Ed: rest of comment deleted. Probably not your intention, but those phrases could be interpreted to be referring to the defendant]

  19. October 1, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    The one thing to come out of this is how difficult it is to say exactly what you want to when feelings run high on this subject, especially where legal proceedings have to be respected. Frustrating as it is – its vital the argument continues and comments welcomed. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be taken from the strength of feeling, even though there are occasions when comments clearly overstep the mark – it’s perhaps better to see comments with redactions than no comments at all. Essentially, we should be crediting the patience and sound judgement of the editorial team here – so thanks for your efforts.

    [Ed: Thanks, wjspeirs. The second part of your comment has been deleted – it’s clear to us you were not intending this to be libellous but somebody wishing to suggest it was, would probably be able to make it stick. A wider discussion on the role of managers paying legal costs would be a good topic, but perhaps not as a comment on a blog post that refers to a specific live case.]

  20. 29 Chris Batchelor
    October 1, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Of course your contributors will want to avoid libeling anyone, bring upstanding law abiding citizens – xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

    PS Your illustration shows a gavel, which is not used in an English courtroom.


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