Campaigners call for stiffer penalties after Alan Wilson given community sentence
A sheriff has criticised Scotland’s weak wildlife crime laws after a gamekeeper convicted of killing protected birds of prey and mammals avoided a prison term.
Alan Wilson, 60, pleaded guilty in July to shooting and trapping badgers, an otter, goshawks and buzzards and installing 23 illegal snares in a small wood on a grouse- and pheasant-shooting estate at Longformacus near Duns.
Wilson, then a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, also admitted using snares illegally and possessing two bottles of carbofuran, a banned carbamate nerve agent used to poison birds of prey.
Sheriff Peter Paterson, sitting at Jedburgh sheriff court, said such crimes usually deserved a prison sentence. However, the Wildlife and Countryside Act allowed sentences of up to six months, and Scottish ministers had recently introduced a presumption against jailing offenders for less than 12 months.
“It highlights the difficulties with the legislation,” Paterson said. “If it wasn’t for this provision [on short-term sentences] then in my view a custodial sentence would have been appropriate.”