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Gamekeeper found with nine dead wild birds and a loaded shotgun has been sentenced

|News

A gamekeeper has been sentenced after he was found in possession of dead buzzards, red kites and a herring gull.

Archie Watson, 21, has been ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order for being in possession of five dead buzzards, three red kites and a herring gull. The wild birds were discovered at the bottom of a well on a farm in Beckhampton, following an investigation by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Watson also pleaded guilty to firearms offences after a loaded shotgun was discovered on the seat of his unlocked vehicle. Following a search at Watson’s home, several firearms were discovered that had been left unlocked and next to unsecured ammunition.

Angharad Thomas, CPS Wessex Senior Crown Prosecutor, said: “This is one of the largest prosecutions of someone being in possession of dead wild birds.

“Every wild bird is protected by law and it is an offence to even be in possession of one, dead or alive.

“A huge effort has gone into growing the red kite population in the UK, so to find three of them dead in that area is alarming and will have an impact on the success of this protected species.

“The CPS takes wildlife offences very seriously and will prosecute whenever our legal test is met.”



Notes to editors

  • Archie Watson (25/04/2001) pleaded guilty to:
    • Possess live/dead non-schedule 1 bird (09/08/2020 – 23/09/2020) on basis of five common buzzards
    • Possess live/dead non-schedule 1 bird (09/08/2020 – 23/09/2020) on basis of three red kites
    • Possess live/dead Schedule 1 bird (09/08/2020 – 23/09/2020) on basis of one herring gull
    • Fail to comply with firearm certificate (23/09/2020)
    • Fail to comply with firearm certificate (23/09/2020)
    • Fail to comply with shotgun certificate (23/09/2020)
  • He has today been sentenced to a 12-month community order, 180 hours unpaid work, and must pay the Fairtrade Access Fund £288 at Swindon Magistrates' Court.
  • Images show loaded shotgun found in unlocked car and Archie Watson disposing of dead wild bird in the well.
  • Among the dead wild birds were red kites, which are of such conservational importance that they are additionally protected under EU legislation.

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