Fishery owner jailed for shooting a protected otter

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A fishery owner who killed a protected otter to stop it from eating his fish has been jailed.

Stuart Jones, 54, owned the Lyons Gate Caravan Park and Fishery near Dorchester in Dorset, boasting of well-stocked lakes for people wanting to fish on their holidays.

When local otters found Jones’ lakes and started eating the fish, he complained about it to his partner and visitors to the campsite, as he was unhappy about losing valuable fish.

Jones illegally set a trap between to try to catch the otters, because he didn’t want to spend thousands of pounds on fencing that would deter the animals from fishing in his lake.

Views of the lake and the otter in a net
Views of the lake and the otter in a net

When an otter became caught in an angler’s net by accident in July last year, Jones used this opportunity to shoot the otter in the head with his rifle.

He did this in full view of holidaymakers, who reported Jones to the UK Wild Otter Trust and to the police.

Jones admitted he had shot the otter despite knowing they were protected. He pleaded guilty to setting an illegal trap and to killing a protected wild animal on 10 February 2020 at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court.

On Friday 6 March he was sentenced to two months in prison and CPS prosecutors are pursuing a confiscation order to deprive Jones of the money he saved by shooting the otter instead of building a fence to keep them out.

Mark Gammon of the CPS said: “Otters are a well-loved and important part of British wildlife and Jones knew that when he shot the animal he was killing a protected species.

“Jones had plenty of options to stop the otter from eating his fish, but he decided that he would save himself the expense of a fence by shooting the otter.

“He did this with no regard for the otter or the holidaymakers who were witness to this traumatic incident.

“In addition to time in prison, we are looking to get a confiscation order for the cost of the fencing, which he had saved by acting illegally.”

Notes to editors

  • Mark Gammon is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS Wessex
  • On 10 February 2020 at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court, Stuart Jones (23/06/1965) pleaded guilty to killing a wild animal contrary to section 2 of the European Communities Act and setting a trap for the purpose of taking or killing an otter. On Friday 6 March he was sentenced to two months in prison
  • POCA proceedings are due to take place on 20 July.

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