Norfolk gamekeeper handed suspended jail sentence for wildlife offences
- Credit: Matthew Usher
A former north Norfolk gamekeeper has been given a suspended prison sentence for seven wildlife offences.
Allen Lambert, 65, formerly a gamekeeper on the Stody Estate, near Holt, appeared before Norwich Magistrates Court charged with the killing of 11 wild birds including 10 buzzards and one sparrowhawk and possession and storage of banned poisons and pesticides including Mevinphos and Aldicarb.
Lambert, from Holt Road, Edgefield, was also charged with failing to comply with a firearms certificate, possession of nine dead buzzards and three counts of contravening the plant protection regulations by using products which contained Mevinphos and Aldicarb - offences which he pleaded guilty to at a previous appearance in December 2013.
Lambert was sentenced to 10 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, ordered to pay costs of £930 and a victim surcharge of £80.
An investigation was launched in April 2013 by Norfolk Constabulary, assisted by the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Natural England and the RSPB, when quantities of unlawfully held pesticides along with a number of dead buzzards were discovered on the Stody Estate.
DC Richard Moden, from Norfolk Constabulary, said: 'I would like to thank all the relevant agencies for their support throughout this complex investigation. Lambert has shown a total disregard for the laws surrounding the protection of wildlife and possession of banned poisons and pesticides. Norfolk Constabulary will not tolerate such behaviour, which affects many of us who live and work in the county.'
Lambert, a gamekeeper on the estate, was arrested and later charged on Wednesday 4 December 2013 with the seven wildlife offences commitment between 1 January and 4 April 2013.
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In recent years there have been two other cases in Norfolk where estate management have been taken to court for wildlife related poisons offences. Officers from the police and Natural England are keen to continue to work with estates across the county to ensure measures are in place to ensure all staff members are working within the law.
Alan Roberts, investigative support officer for the National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: 'This case has been significant because of the number of birds of prey found poisoned which, together with the lax attitude to firearms security, has exposed an ingrained blasé attitude to lethal chemicals and weapons. There is a lot of work going on amongst all the relevant agencies from the law enforcers to game keeping bodies and the RSPB to stamp this sort of behaviour out. During our enquiry the Stody Estate has been very helpful in assisting our investigation. We are keen to work alongside estates to help them manage their predator control and ensure they are fully aware of the work they should be undertaking.'
Guy Shorrock, a senior investigations officer with the RSPB, said: 'I've been investigating wildlife crime for over 20 years and this is one of the worst cases I have dealt with. Finding the carcases of nine poisoned buzzards in a bag at Lambert's home was truly dreadful. Unfortunately, this is part of a wider national problem and we are calling on the government to bring in stronger legislation to make sporting estates more accountable for the actions of their staff.'
A Natural England spokesman added: 'The sheer scale of offences in this case is shocking and we hope that this sentence will prove a deterrent to others. Persecution of a protected species is a criminal offence, and we will continue our work with police and other agencies under the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme, to help bring an end to such senseless crimes.'
Chris Mawdsley, of HSE's chemicals regulation directorate, said: 'Mevinphos and Aldicarb are very toxic substances which are banned as pesticides in the UK, and there is no legitimate reason for a game keeper to possess them. The indiscriminate and illegal storage and use of these banned pesticides as poisons raises significant concerns; and the Police, Natural England and HSE will take robust action against those who unnecessarily put the lives of others and the environment at risk.'
A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers' Organisation added: 'The NGO stands for game keeping within the law. But the selfish, stupid actions of one man – who was not and never has been a member of the NGO – must not be used to tarnish the good name of game keeping, which does so much for the countryside and its wildlife.'