A FORMER GAMEKEEPER has been given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a spate of rural and wildlife crimes.

Paul Scott Allen, whose address was given as Baileys Hill, in Brockington, near Wimborne, appeared before Weymouth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, February 16 where he was sentenced for seven offences.

The court heard charges were brought after an extensive investigation by police ‘over a number of years’. 

Police executed a warrant at Allen's address in March 2021 and found a shotgun that was behind a door and loaded. They also found rounds of ammunition - neither of which were covered by the gamekeeper’s firearms licenses.

Subsequent searches located a ‘fire in the yard’ and a number of dead birds - including six buzzards and ‘parts’ of three further buzzards. Further ‘remains’ of birds were also discovered.

Regulated toxins - Strychnine, Cymag and Ficam - were found on Allen’s premises.

Victoria Hill, prosecuting, said police had found evidence to suggest the Ficam, found in Allen’s car, had been purchased on eBay in 2018 when it was still an approved substance. 

Tim Ryan, mitigating, accepted that “even if it was still approved it wouldn’t have been appropriate,” to store it in Allen’s car.

The court was told post-mortems performed on the bird suggested “it appears more likely that shooting rather than poisoning was the cause of death for all the birds”.

In a police interview, Allen said he had ‘no knowledge’ of the buzzards that were found, that he didn’t shoot them and he had no knowledge of who might have been responsible.

The court previously heard Allen had ‘suffered a great deal’ at the time of the offences after his wife passed away from a long-term illness.

Mr Ryan said: “He is extremely remorseful, and embarrassed and ashamed to have brought this on his family.

“There was a lot of (press) coverage online and that will remain forever more. That has consequences.”

A number of character references were read out to the court, including one from a neighbour who said Allen was 'at all times kind and considerate' and had cared extensively for his wife.

In sentencing, Sarah Saunders said Allen would receive a total of 15 weeks in prison for the two charges of possessing dead birds, or parts thereof, suspended for 12 months.

The sentence was suspended on the basis of 'strong personal mitigation' and that an immediate custody term would have a 'significant impact on others'.

Allen must pay fines totalling £2,022 and compensation to the value of £844.70.

Allen pleaded guilty to seven offences: two counts of possessing a live or dead bird, or parts thereof, one charge of failing to comply with the conditions of a shotgun certificate, one charge of failing to comply with the conditions of a firearms certificate, one count of possessing a regulated substance without a license, one count of failing to comply with  regulations in accordance with the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 and one charge of contravening a health and safety regulations.