Case against grouse moor gamekeeper Timothy Cowin: part 4

Criminal proceedings continued last Monday (6 August 2018) against grouse moor gamekeeper Timothy Cowin, who is accused of a series of alleged wildlife crimes, including the shooting of two short-eared owls in April 2017 at Whernside, Cumbria in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is further alleged he was in possession of items (a shotgun and an electronic calling device) capable of being used to kill wild birds.

Since court proceedings against Mr Cowin began six months ago, this case has been dragged around a number of magistrates courts in the NW of England. It’s been quite astonishing:

The first court hearing took place at Lancaster Magistrates Court on 27 February 2018.

[Lancaster Magistrates Court, photo by Ruth Tingay]

Mr Cowin’s solicitor, Michael Kenyon, requested an adjournment and no plea was entered. The defence also requested that the case be heard by a District Judge instead of a panel of magistrates (a District Judge is legally-qualified, usually a former solicitor or barrister, whereas magistrates are non-legally qualified volunteers who depend on a qualified legal advisor in the court to direct them on the relevant law). The defence’s request was granted.

The next court hearing took place at Preston Magistrates Court on 16 March 2018 for a case management hearing in front of District Judge Goodwin (the same judge who presided over the Bleasdale peregrine case).

[Preston Magistrates Court, photo by Ruth Tingay]

This was a farcical hearing that we blogged about at the time (see here). No plea was entered by the defendant and his solicitor argued that the case should be thrown out on legal technicalities because he claimed some of the witness statements were incorrectly dated and some of the procedural paperwork was “defective in its wording”.

The case was adjourned and District Judge Goodwin suggested the case be moved to Blackpool to be heard by another District Judge (DJ Chalk) as DJ Goodwin thought she might be away and didn’t want to delay future proceedings.

The case duly moved to Blackpool Magistrates Court and was due to be heard there on 11 May 2018. However, the case was adjourned again.

[Blackpool Magistrates Court, photo by Ruth Tingay]

The case was scheduled to continue at Blackpool Magistrates Court on 16 July 2018. However, the DJ was unwell so the hearing was cancelled a few days earlier. The court admin managed to get this information to the defence team in time but failed to notify the prosecution team, who all duly turned up in Blackpool only to be told the case wasn’t running that day after all!

Later in July, according to a court clerk, District Judge Chalk appears to have reviewed the legal arguments in private chambers at Carlisle Magistrates Court.

[Carlisle Magistrates Court, photographer unknown]

A further case hearing was scheduled for 6 August 2018, this time at Barrow-in-Furness Magistrates Court. This hearing did go ahead and legal argument was finally heard. District Judge Chalk apparently ruled in favour of the Crown Prosecution Service.

[Barrow-in-Furness Magistrates Court, photo by Alamy]

After the District Judge’s ruling in favour of the CPS, the defendant entered a not guilty plea. The next court hearing is expected to take place later this month, possibly back in Blackpool.


14 Responses to “Case against grouse moor gamekeeper Timothy Cowin: part 4”

  1. 1 R Stuart Craig
    August 10, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Is this debacle being funded by legal aid??????

  2. 2 JBNTS
    August 10, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    The lengths that the establishment will go to to protect [Ed: alledgedly] errant gamekeepers from prosecution is appalling.

    In the event that the defendant is found guilty xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx justice would be served if he got stuck with all of the legal and court expenses incurred. A custodial sentence pour encourager les autres would be great too.

  3. 3 SOG
    August 10, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Perhaps things would speed up if they had just one big court in Kendal, handy for the M6?

  4. 4 Robin Waterman
    August 10, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    6th August was a Monday, not a Friday?

    [Ed: well spotted, thanks, amended]

  5. 5 Peter Howe
    August 10, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Sound all very reminiscent of previous cases.
    Lets hope this time the legal team on our side has all the notes and has long enough to study the case thoroughly in advance and are ready to tackle the other sides barrister full on.

  6. 7 Dougie
    August 10, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Just the usual musical chairs/benches farce (BTW this sort of nonsense is not confined to wildlife crime). If the people involved in our criminal “justice” circus were employed elsewhere they would be getting kicked from arseole until breakfast time.

  7. 8 Jimmy
    August 10, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Good thing it wasn’t caught on camera as it would have been thown out by the wigs already!!

  8. 9 Tom Gun
    August 11, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Creating delays and adjournments is standard practice with wildlife cases.

    So much for summary justice……it is a farce nothing summary about it.

    Everyone has the right to a fair trial and within a reasonable timescale.

    Sadly this is weighted very heavily in favour of the defence and being exploited.

    And in the event of him being found guilty lets see what the sentence is………..!

  9. 10 Iain Gibson
    August 12, 2018 at 4:25 am

    I suspect the nature of response and slow progress by prosecutors and judiciary is due to the fact that wildlife crime is regarded as people versus wildlife, rather than people or state against people or corporations. Thus it is regarded as being of low significance and barely worth treating seriously. To counter this we need to widen the scope considerably and engender greater public support, along with campaigning to strengthen the legislation. Right now it seems we are probably regarded as a minority interest in the grander scheme of prosecuting ‘serious’ criminals, of which the courts are over-run. The game shooting lobby are aware of this, and consequently they don’t take their own criminality seriously. They are confident their chances of being caught in the act are somewhere less than one in a hundred, and must be laughing out loud at the failures of RSPB struggling to get prosecutors to take their crimes seriously. It sends out a message for them to carry on killing.

  10. 11 Ian Cole
    August 13, 2018 at 11:33 am

    The establishment will go to any lengths to prevent prosecution to avoid charges of vicarious liability. It’s about time that gamekeepers’ employers were up in court answering for the actions of their employees and paying the penalty.

  11. 12 Gary white
    August 15, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Completely ridiculous this must cost a fortune. Surely justice isn’t served by this runaround.

  12. 13 John Crosley
    September 10, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    I hope local people make him aware of their feelings as they did with the woman who put the cat in the wheelie bin. I understand the killing of animals for food but you have to be pretty sick killing animals for fun.

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