Alan Wilson sentenced for wildlife offences in Scottish Borders

Published 19 August 2019

Police Scotland welcomes the sentencing today, Monday 19th August, of Alan Wilson who committed an array of offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 that included the illegal killing of protected species.

The gamekeeper, who worked on the Longformacus Estate close to Duns in the Scottish Borders, has been the subject of a multi-agency police led operation for the past two years and was today sentenced to a 225 hours Community Payback Order at Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

Police in the Borders received information from a member of the public that a dead goshawk had been found on the estate in May 2017, with a subsequent search of a nearby woodland leading to the recovery of further dead birds of prey, three badgers and an otter.

As a result of the investigation, the now 61-year-old was arrested and charged in July 2018 and plead guilty to nine offences at Jedburgh Sheriff Court on 22nd July 2019.

Wilsons offences also included being in possession of two bottles of an illegal pesticide, carbofuran, which is recognised as one of the most toxic pesticides and illegal in the UK.

Detective Constable Andy Loughlin who led the police inquiries said: “This has been a complex inquiry that has amounted to a large-scale police investigation spanning the past couple of years.

“We have worked with experts in the field to secure Wilson’s conviction and I would like to thank our colleagues from the Scottish SPCA, RSPB Scotland, veterinary pathologists at the Scottish Agricultural College, government specialists at SASA, and independent experts, for all their assistance.”

Commenting on the case, an undercover Scottish SPCA investigator said: “This is a despicable case of serious and systematic crimes to indiscriminately remove wildlife from an estate. The sheer volume of dead wildlife discovered is truly shocking.

“The successful prosecution of Mr. Wilson sees some form of justice served, and the Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit were happy to lend our expertise on wildlife crime to support this multi-agency effort. This level of cooperation is vital to catching people who are committing these specialist, brutal crimes.

“Some of the equipment in Mr. Wilson’s possession has been unlawful for decades yet it was evident it had been recently used to trap wild animals. The illegally set snares across the estate he was managing would have trapped wild animals indiscriminately and the remains discovered were proof of that. This amounted to large-scale eradication of wildlife. We will never know the total number of animals which perished due to Mr. Wilson, though had it not been for the robust intervention of Police Scotland, the Scottish SPCA and our other partner agencies, many more would have suffered and perished.”

Duncan Orr-Ewing from RSPB Scotland said: “This was an absolutely appalling incident involving the illegal killing of a range of protected wildlife. We thank the Police, Scottish SPCA, and other public agencies for their hard work in bringing this case to a successful conclusion."

Dr Lucy Webster, a wildlife forensic scientist at SASA said: “This investigation has made good use of forensic evidence to fully illustrate the range of offences committed.  It is an excellent example of the benefits of partnership working to bring a prolific wildlife criminal to justice.”

DC Loughlin continued: “The illegal killing of birds of prey and protected species cannot, and will not, be tolerated, nor will the inhumane use of illegal traps and pesticides. Whenever such offences are reported to us we will work closely with partners to identify those responsible and ensure they are brought before the courts.

“If you have concerns regarding this type of criminal activity in your area, please report it to us via 101 so that we can investigate thoroughly.”

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