Posts Tagged ‘sodium cyanide

23
Feb
15

Scottish Government launches poisons disposal scheme

PoisonThe Scottish Government has today launched it’s promised ‘pesticides disposal scheme’ – a free service allowing those who are still in possession of these banned substances an opportunity to get rid of them without fear of consequence.

This scheme was initiated by former Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse whilst he was still in office.

We have mixed views about the scheme.

On the one hand, it’s a proactive approach to rid Scotland of highly toxic substances that are still being used, illegally, with devastating effect on some of our raptor species, notably golden eagles, red kites, peregrines and buzzards. Only yesterday we blogged about the latest victim  -a poisoned peregrine found on a grouse moor (see here).

On the other hand, many of these poisons have been banned for years, and even being in possession of them has been an offence since 2005 (Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005), so why, ten years later, are the criminals who are still in possession of these poisons being given yet another opportunity to escape justice?

The bigger concern of these two views undoubtedly has to be that these poisons need to be removed, and that concern outweighs the lesser concern that the criminals won’t be punished, so from that perspective we welcome the new scheme.

However, what we want (expect) to see as a result of the scheme is that anybody caught with these poisons after the scheme has ended MUST be given a more serious sentence for their crime. We fully expect that even after this scheme has ended, there will still be substantial amounts of these poisons being held illegally. Why? Because the criminals who hold and use these poisons have been doing so for a long, long time, despite the legislation and despite previous amnesties, because they know there’s a good chance that they’ll get away with it. And for those who do get caught, the penalty is usually so ineffectual that the risk was worth taking anyway. Those people, when caught, must feel the full force of the law and not some pathetic fine or community service order – nothing less than a mandatory custodial sentence will do.

It’s not clear for how long the free disposal scheme will run, other than a quote from the current Environment Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod, that the scheme will be “short-lived”.

Those wishing to dispose of their banned poisons via this scheme can do so without fear of prosecution, and without their personal details being given to the authorities. The Government will be collecting data about the uptake of the scheme, but these data will be limited to the type and number of poisons handed in, the cost of the scheme, and only the first three letters of the postcode from where the poisons have been collected.

As this is a free and confidential service, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for anyone to still be in possession of these poisons by the time the scheme ends. Mind you, it’s been that way for the past decade and yet….

Scottish Government press release here

Details about how to use the free disposal service here

Frequently Asked Questions about the scheme here

A list of the poisons that will be accepted by the scheme and a description of what they look like and some common generic names here

05
Jun
14

Ross-shire Massacre: police confirm banned poison involved

RK7The following statement has just been released by Police Scotland:

Police Scotland Highland and Islands Division are seeking to reassure the public that enquiries are still ongoing into a wildlife crime investigation regarding the death of birds of prey in the Ross-shire area.

The 22 birds (sixteen red kites and six buzzards) were located in the Conon Bridge area and following analysis of the birds’ remains, fifteen have been confirmed as having digested an illegally-held poisonous substance (twelve red kites and three buzzards). Post mortem examinations and toxicology work continues into all the birds seized.

Police Scotland is continuing to work in close collaboration with partner agencies. Landowners and farmers in the local area are also continuing to assist police with their ongoing enquiries.

Police are keen to speak to anyone who has any information about the incident and would encourage them to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

ends

So, finally, they’ve managed to confirm that a banned poison was involved. About time, too. They still haven’t named it, but the “illegally-held poisonous substance” will be one (or more) of those named on the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005. These are:

Aldicarb, Alphachloralose, Aluminium Phosphide, Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Mevinphos, Sodium Cyanide, and Strychnine.

Now, which industry hates raptors and is known to have a close association with these banned poisons…let’s think hard….erm….

It actually doesn’t matter that the police haven’t named the poison(s). Just knowing it’s a banned poison and not a ‘mystery virus’ or an ‘accidental poisoning’ is enough to put a halt to what has recently looked increasingly like a coordinated campaign to associate the deaths with the feeding regime at the RSPB’s Tollie Kite Feeding Station rather than focus attention on the specific area where the poisoned victims, along with poisoned bait, had been found.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that of all the speculation that’s been aired, nobody seems to have wondered about whether there’s any (legal) ‘vermin control’ being done on those farms around Conon Bridge. Perhaps done on a casual basis in return for access for a spot of pheasant shooting by a small shooting syndicate? But then that’s such an obvious angle of inquiry, the police must have covered it months ago…..right?

The number of confirmed poison victims has reached 15 (it really is like pulling teeth trying to get information about this incident) and the police ‘investigation’ continues…..

Previous blog posts on the Ross-shire Massacre here

01
Oct
13

Why we don’t trust the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation

ngoA few days ago, Charles Nodder, Political Advisor to the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), wrote on this blog:

You should regard us [the NGO] as a key part of the solution [to stamping out illegal raptor persecution], not part of the problem. An organisation to be supported, not attacked”.

The thing is, in order to support an organisation there first needs to be a level of trust. It’s very hard for us to trust the NGO, and here’s why…

Until recently, we were under the impression (mistakenly, as it turns out) that the NGO wouldn’t tolerate any illegal gamekeeping activity and if any of their members were convicted of such an offence, they would be expelled from the organisation. This is what the NGO wants us all to believe, as outlined in their own Disciplinary Code, as published on their website.

However, it would now appear that the NGO does, in our opinion, tolerate some illegal gamekeeping activity. This has only come to light because we discovered that the NGO member who has been applying for licences to kill buzzards (and now sparrowhawks too) was recently convicted for being in possession of several banned poisons, including Carbofuran, the most common poison used to illegally kill birds of prey. We have now discovered that the NGO member, who we have called Mr Buzzard Licence Applicant, was not booted out of the NGO following his conviction for a wildlife crime that is closely linked with the illegal poisoning of birds of prey. Not only was he not booted out, but the NGO then actively supported this member by helping him to apply for his buzzard and sparrowhawk-killing licences.

When challenged about this, Mr Nodder provided some fascinating responses on this blog (see here). Before we take a closer look at those responses, we would first like to acknowledge Mr Nodder’s willingness to engage in conversation on this blog. That’s to his credit; there are many others within the game-shooting industry who have repeatedly refused to engage with us, citing excuses such as, “We don’t communicate with anonymous individuals” but who then go on to complain that we publish articles without giving them the right to reply!! Quite an astonishing response given today’s world of multi-media and social networking communications. A missed opportunity for them, but not really that surprising when you consider that many of them are still hanging on to other 19th Century ideals.

Anyway, back to that NGO policy of supposedly not tolerating any illegal gamekeeping activity.

To begin with, Mr Nodder tried to claim that “The possession of a banned substance [and remember we’re talking here about banned poisons that are routinely used to illegally poison wildlife] is quite clearly a possession offence and not an offence against wildlife”. We were astounded by this comment. There are many, many examples of ‘possession’ offences that are inextricably linked to wildlife crime. Here are just a few examples:

  • Possession of a dead red kite (see James Rolfe case).
  • Possession of 10.5kg of the banned poison Carbofuran (see Dean Barr case).
  • Possession of the banned poison Carbofuran (see Cyril McLachlan case).
  • Possession of wild birds eggs (see Matthew Gonshaw cases).
  • Possession of an illegal pole trap (see Ivan Crane case).
  • Possession of a wild bird (see Craig Barrie case).
  • Possession of live & dead birds for trade/taxidermy (see Gary McPhail case).
  • Possession of the banned poison Alphachloralose (see David Whitefield case).
  • Possession of the banned poison Carbofuran (see Tom McKellar case).
  • Possession of wild birds (see Cogoo Sherman Bowen case).
  • Possession of the banned poisons Carbofuran, Strychnine and Alphachloralose (see Peter Bell case).
  • Possession of wild birds eggs (see Keith Liddell case).
  • Possession of the banned poison Sodium Cyanide (see William Scobie case).
  • Possession of dead wild birds (see Luke Byrne case).
  • Possession of the banned poisons Carbofuran and Alphachloralose (see Graham Kerr case).

In many of these example cases, poisoned and/or other illegally killed raptors were also discovered. Indeed, in many cases it is the discovery of these poisoned animals that then leads on to a police investigation and search that then leads to the discovery of a stash of banned poisons. Quite often, as we all know, the subsequent charges that are brought do not often include charges for actually poisoning the wildlife, but instead the charges relate to the ‘lesser’ (in legal terms) offence of ‘possession’, either due to plea bargaining or due to lack of evidence needed to secure a conviction for the actual poisoning of a wild animal. It stands to reason that the actual poisoning of wildlife is inextricably linked to the possession of banned poisons; in order to poison wildlife, the criminal obviously first has to be in possession of the poison to carry out the act of poisoning.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit defines the possession of a banned poison as a wildlife crime – the Unit often publicises convictions for the possession of banned poisons in its reports. The Scottish Government also defines convictions for possession of banned poisons as wildlife crime – indeed, this is one of the offences that can trigger a prosecution under the new vicarious liability legislation, brought in specifically to address the continuing illegal persecution of raptors. The Crown Office considers possession of banned poisons as a wildlife crime because its specialist wildlife prosecutors take on these cases. The Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW, of which the NGO boasts membership) also considers possession of banned poisons a wildlife crime – they, too, publicise ‘possession’ convictions in their newsletters.

So why is it that the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation doesn’t accept possession of banned poisons as a wildlife crime? And if they don’t, why the hell are they allowed to participate in the Raptor Persecution Wildlife Crime Priority Group? Surely that group has been established to find ways of stamping out illegal raptor persecution, but how can it achieve that if one organisational member refuses to expel members who have been convicted of a serious wildlife crime? It makes a mockery of the whole group and does absolutely nothing to instill public confidence in the sincerity of the process.

approvedMr Nodder’s next explanation for why Mr Buzzard Licence Applicant wasn’t booted out of the NGO was to suggest that possession of a banned poison was not a ‘gamekeeping activity’. On the contrary, if Mr Nodder took the time to look at the conviction statistics (publicly available to those who want to look) he would notice that the significant majority of those convicted for possession of banned poisons are gamekeepers, and that trend has continued for many years. In the case of Mr Buzzard Licence Applicant, his stashes of banned poisons were found in his work vehicle and inside one of his pheasant pens. There’s simply no denying it, unless of course you happen to be the NGO, trying to justify why you haven’t stuck to your stated Disciplinary Code and expelled a member for his criminal conviction.

And what sort of message does this policy send to other NGO members? ‘Don’t worry if you get caught in possession of banned poisons, we won’t kick you out of the club’. It makes you wonder what the law-abiding members of the NGO feel about this policy. If you were a law-abiding member (and there must be some, surely), would you want to be a member of a group that welcomed those with a criminal conviction related to banned poisons? If the NGO doesn’t distinguish between criminal and law-abiding members, why should we?

The third argument Mr Nodder used to try and get us to drop what must be quite embarrassing questions was to pull out the old ‘It’s a spent conviction so we can’t discuss it’ routine. Nice try, but in this case, wholly inapplicable. The legislation that prevents publication of so-called ‘spent convictions’ is the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (see here for a good explanation). Its basic premise is that after a period of x years of rehabilitation (depending on the type of crime committed – in this case, five years), the conviction can be ignored and need not be divulged (with one or two exceptions). If somebody does then publish information about the conviction, they may be subject to libel damages, but only if the primary motive of publishing the information was malicious. In this case, seeing as though we haven’t named Mr Buzzard Licence Applicant, even though we’ve had lots of opportunity to do so (and indeed our own received legal advice was that we could name him), it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to demonstrate that we are acting in malice (against him as an individual) by discussing his spent conviction because he hasn’t been identified as a named individual. Our primary motive for discussing this case has been to (a) examine the Natural England/DEFRA policy that allows convicted wildlife criminals to apply for licences to kill protected species (see earlier blogs on this), and (b) to examine the sincerity of the NGO’s claims that they won’t tolerate any illegal gamekeeping activity and will expel any member with such a conviction.

And while we’re on the subject of the Rehab of Offenders Act, we’ve made a very interesting observation. Certain professions are exempt from the Act, so that individuals are not allowed to withhold details of previous convictions in relation to job applications. These professions include teachers, social workers, doctors, dentists, vets, accountants etc. But interestingly, also included are “Employees of the RSPCA or SSPCA whose duties extend to the humane killing of animals”. Now then, it is beyond question that the duties of gamekeepers ‘extend to the humane killing of animals’. They probably kill (legitimately) more animals on a daily basis than all the RSPCA and SSPCA employees put together. So why are gamekeepers not included in this list of exemptions? Why should a gamekeeper be able to hide past wildlife crime convictions but an RSPCA/SSPCA employee cannot? That’s a question for the policy makers…

In summary then, in our opinion the NGO’s stated claim that they don’t tolerate any illegal gamekeeping activity is not convincing. They don’t view the possession of a banned poison as a wildlife crime and a conviction for possession of a banned poison is not enough to warrant expulsion from the NGO, even when that poison just happens to be the most commonly used substance to illegally kill birds of prey. It doesn’t matter to us how many wildlife crime groups the NGO has joined – in our view this is just a convenient shield for hiding true intentions – we don’t trust them and will continue to view them with suspicion until they start to back up their stated claims with convincing actions.

01
Nov
12

Scottish gamekeeper convicted of using banned poison

A 78-year old gamekeeper has been convicted of several wildlife crimes, including using the highly toxic banned pesticide Sodium Cyanide.

William (Bill) Scobie appeared at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Monday 29th October and admitted obstructing access to a badger sett at Jardine Hall Estate, near Lockerbie, as well as possession of the banned poison. Earlier media coverage indicated the placing of Cymag at the entrance of a badger sett. This stuff releases lethal cyanide gas on contact with moisture, which is why it’s been banned for several years.

This case has been running for a while; it was first reported by the BBC in July 2010 (see here) but we believe it was held up after the Cadder ruling (see here for an explanation) and it took some time before the case was given the go-ahead to proceed.

Scobie was fined a pathetic £270. The maximum fine for each offence is £5,000 and/or a six-month prison term.

It’s not known whether Scobie is a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association. If he is, then we’ll be expecting to see a strong signal of zero tolerance from them, including a public statement to confirm that his membership has been terminated. But don’t hold your breath, we’re still waiting for them to issue public statements of condemnation about other Scottish gamekeepers who’ve been convicted of wildlife crimes this year (e.g. see here, here). Oh, and perhaps something about that shot golden eagle found on a grouse moor (here) and the results of their own ‘inquiry’ into the dead golden eagle found in Aberdeenshire (see here).

Excellent work by the SSPCA  once again. In their press release, the SSPCA also thank Dumfries & Galloway Police and Procurator Fiscal Pamela Rhodes (once again). She’s obviously very good at her job – wonder why she wasn’t offered that third specialist wildlife crime fiscal position…

SSPCA press release here

25
Oct
12

4 people in hospital after exposure to banned poison on an estate

Four people on the Isle of Lewis, including two estate workers and two paramedics, were sent to hospital last night after fears they’d been exposed to the banned pesticide Cyanide.

According to a local blogger Iain Maciver (here), Uig Lodge estate owner, Dickon Green ‘accidentally sucked up a bag of cyanide powder‘ with his vacuum cleaner and ‘the deadly poison then shot through the cleaner and came out the other end in a cloud of dust which showered the businessman’.

According to the BBC, “The poison is understood to have been in storage and was for pest control“. If this was Sodium Cyanide, it was banned under the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005 (see here).

The local blogger claims Mr Green was vacuum-packing the deadly powder ‘ready for it to be transported for safe disposal at a mainland poisons depository‘. He goes on: “He’d found it in the lodge where it was thought to have been for many years since previous owners used it for exterminating rats and he had failed to get a local agency to take responsibility for its safe disposal”.

If this version of events is accurate, it raises important questions about the safe disposal of these banned poisons. Who takes responsibility? The local authorities? Or the hapless landowner who may not have the required expertise to safely handle these highly dangerous substances, putting themselves, and others, at great risk?

A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said: “The incident has involved a number of agencies working together and there is not believed to be any further risk to the public“.

More reports on the BBC (here) and STV news (here)

Earlier this year there was another scare involving this banned posion, when gamekeeper Graeme Thompson claimed (falsely) that he’d swallowed Cyanide, along with some razor blades. It resulted in a huge operation involving the emergency services for fear he could contaminate hundreds of nearby residents (see here and here).

11
Sep
12

Glen Orchy: a hollow victory

Last Friday, Tom McKellar, an employee of Auch Estate, an Argyll sporting estate in Bridge of Orchy, was convicted of possessing the illegal poison Carbofuran and was fined £1,200 (see here). This conviction should be a cause for celebration, and in some respects it is, but there is also an overwhelming sense of disappointment and frustration. We had all thought this was a pretty clear-cut case, with lots of investigative resources thrown at it, a strong evidential trail and a known suspect. We were further encouraged by a statement given by the then Scottish Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, who said:

I am truly appalled that yet another golden eagle has been illegally killed in Scotland – the second this summer. Illegal poisoning is simply inexcusable and while the perpetrators are certainly beneath contempt they are in no way above the law“.

Given the nature of the alleged offences (wildlife & firearms), we were certain that a custodial sentence was inevitable. How stupid were we?

It all started to unravel in December 2010, 18 months after the poisoned eagle was found dead in Glen Orchy. We learned that Tom McKellar had been convicted of possessing two illegal handguns, but instead of receiving the mandatory five-year prison sentence, he was given just 300 hours community service and a commendation from the judge who reportedly told him: “There is no doubt you are an outstanding individual” (see here). There was little mention in the media about the poisoned golden eagle or the stash of illegal poison that had been found at McKellar’s house during the original police search. We were suspicious that the wildlife crimes were being ignored and that COPFS had decided to just take on the firearms offences because, in the eyes of the law, these are greater crimes than the poisoning offences and would normally result in a custodial sentence.

Based on these suspicions, we blogged about the case in January 2011, and suggested that no charges were being brought against anyone for poisoning that eagle. We also encouraged readers to contact the Scottish Government to complain. Many did, and all hell let loose. The Scottish Government responded by saying that the firearms offences were being dealt with separately, at a court with a higher authority than a Sheriff Court, and that the wildlife offences were still ‘being dealt with’. A well-known prosecutor threatened us, indirectly, with legal action. For what? Expressing an opinion? As it turns out, we were right all along, nobody has been prosecuted for poisoning that golden eagle, although we’ve had to wait for over three years to have this confirmed.

It then all went quiet for a while, at least publicly. It’s not known whether COPFS bowed to pressure to take forward the wildlife crime prosecution or whether they had actually been pursuing the charge all along, but that it took over three years for the case to conclude is probably quite telling.  Not that it really matters now anyway; what matters is the outcome.

So, a conviction was eventually secured, although this was just for ‘possession’ of a banned substance; in our opinion this is the least significant charge of any that could have been brought. McKellar admitted during interviews that he had laid out poisoned baits ‘in the past’, and yet he wasn’t charged for that. Were the words ‘in the past’ significant in the decision not to press charges for that offence? What does ‘in the past’ mean, anyway? Two years ago? Two weeks ago? Two days ago? Two hours ago? In addition to the poisoned golden eagle, a Carbofuran-poisoned fox was found and also a dead sheep laced with Carbofuran. Someone was clearly still putting out poisoned baits, but COPFS accepted McKellar’s claim that he wasn’t responsible. It’s unfortunate that these types of offences are only dealt with as summary cases in a Sheriff Court. It would have been interesting to hear what a jury might have thought had the charges been heard in a higher court. Again, we’ll never know and we have to accept that McKellar is guilty of nothing more than possessing the banned poison Carbofuran (oh, and possessing two illegal handguns).

It’s hard not to think that McKellar has come out of all this relatively lightly. It’s also hard to believe that his punishments will act as any sort of deterrent to other would-be criminals. He avoided a mandatory five-year prison term for the firearms offences, and he was fined just a fraction of the amount that he could have been fined for possessing the illegal poison Carbofuran. It appears that he has also kept his job. Auch Estate is currently up for sale (for a mere £8.4 million) and a look at the sales particulars (Auch Estate sales brochure 2012), dated August 2012, indicates that the new owner has to take on the current Estate employees under the TUPE regulations, including Farm Manager Tom McKellar. These sales particulars also show that almost £700,000 was paid in grants and subsidies during 2011; it would be interesting to know whether there will be any forfeiture of these payments following McKellar’s conviction, although based on previous experience, this information is exceptionally difficult to access, even though it’s public money! It would also be interesting to hear whether McKellar’s employer is being investigated, after McKellar reportedly claimed it was his employer who had provided him with the Carbofuran (see here). Wouldn’t it also be interesting to find out whether Auch Estate is a member of Scottish Land & Estates? And whether McKellar, as an employee of a sporting estate, is a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association? Needless to say, neither of these organisations has made any public statements about McKellar’s conviction last Friday.

Other question marks include a strange bit of (non)-reporting by SASA. The poisoned golden eagle found at Glen Orchy was listed in SASA’s 2009 annual report. However, the dead fox found nearby that was reported to have been poisoned by Carbofuran did not appear in the SASA report. Neither did the dead sheep also found nearby that was reportedly laced with Carbofuran and used as poisoned bait. Why weren’t these two animals included in SASA’s list of confirmed poison cases for 2009? Perhaps SASA didn’t do the toxicology tests. If they didn’t, then who did? If SASA did do the tests, but failed to include the animals in their report, what confidence does this give us when SASA release their annual poisoning statistics? Are other cases missing? We only knew about the fox and the sheep because the RSPB had listed them in their annual report.

A further question mark hangs over a related issue. The media has reported that the poisoned golden eagle found dead in Glen Orchy had been killed with the banned pesticide Carbofuran. However, if you look at the 2009 SASA report, the following chemicals are listed as being detected in this bird’s body: Carbofuran, Methiocarb, Sodium Cyanide and Strychnine. Now, we have it on good authority, although this has not been formally verified, that a second individual was searched during the police raid back in June 2009. This individual, XXXXX XXXXX is believed to be a gamekeeper in Perthshire but is not an employee of Auch Estate; he was just there on the day the police arrived to conduct their search. We understand that the police found Mr XXXXX to be in possession of a bottle of Strychnine and a container of decanted Cyanide. Now look again at the chemicals detected in the body of the dead golden eagle. As far as we are aware, no charges have been brought against Mr XXXXX, not even for possession. If this turns out to be an accurate report, then something has gone seriously wrong with this investigation. A lack of resources can’t be blamed on this one, given the array of organisations involved with the investigation, including multiple police forces with specialist wildlife crime officers as well as the National Wildlife Crime Unit. So what happened? Did Mr XXXXX slip through the net and if so, how? Do you think we’ll hear anything about this or do you think it’ll be quietly pushed under the carpet?

In summary then, yes, a conviction was secured (McKellar) and we should be pleased about that. McKellar’s illegal stash of Carbofuran and his illegal cache of handguns have been taken out of circulation and so we should also be pleased about that, too. But this is not what could be called a successful outcome; far from it. It’s deeply unsatisfactory and shares striking similarities with other recent, high-profile cases which also concluded unsatisfactorily, such as Moy Estate and Skibo Estate. In all three cases, and in countless other lower-profile cases, sporting estate employees have only been charged with the lesser offence of possession. Charges have not been brought against anyone for the illegally-killed raptors found in each location, nor for laying the illegal poisoned baits or for putting out the illegal traps. On a superficial level then, the convictions for possession look good and the authorities can claim they are successfully addressing the issue of wildlife crime. Scratch below the publicity gloss though and you find that very little progress has been made; charges, if they’re brought at all, are not reflecting the full extent of the crimes uncovered, and on conviction the sentences are not reflecting the seriousness of these crimes.

06
Mar
10

Gamekeeper guilty of poisoning at Blythe Farm, nr lauder, Scottish Borders

In August 2006, a police raid on Blythe Farm, near Lauder in the Scottish Borders, led to the discovery of pheasant baits laced with poison (carbofuran) as well as several illegal cage traps baited with live pigeons to lure in birds of prey.

Gamekeeper Aitken arrived at court in a black ski mask.

In April 2007, gamekeeper George “Doddie” Aitken was found guilty at Selkirk Sheriff Court. Sheriff Kevin Drummond sentenced him to 220 hours community service. A gamekeeper for 20 years, Aitken was allowed to keep his job. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/6719505.stm

In January 2008, the owner of Blythe Farm, James McDougal, became the first landowner to be punished for the crimes committed by his gamekeeper. His agricultural subsidies were cut by £7,919 for his failure to protect wildlife. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jan/07/ruralaffairs.scotland




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