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Gamekeeper escapes jail due to sentencing presumption
A gamekeeper responsible for the illegal killing of dozens of wild animals and birds has been given a community sentence after a sheriff decided that the presumption against short prison sentences precluded a custodial term.
Alan Wilson (60), of Longformacus estate in the Borders, was sentenced to 225 hours' community work after pleading guilty at Jedburgh Sheriff Court to nine offences involving shooting, trapping, snaring and poisoning wildlife between March 2016 and May 2017, and possession of banned pesticides.
Creatures killed included otters, foxes, badgers and birds of prey.
Sheriff Peter Paterson said the case was "very severe", but a custodial sentence was not an option due to the presumption against short prison sentences.
In this case the presumption was against sentences of up to three months. For offences committed after 4 July this year, the presumption has been extended to sentences of up to 12 months.
Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, said he was "disappointed" that the law did not allow for a custodial sentence. He commented: "This case illustrates the scale on which wildlife is being persecuted in order to prop up the commercial shooting industry, which relies on eradicating any species deemed to be a threat to game birds."
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said Mr Wilson's membership had been terminated with immediate effect. His actions were "unacceptable and entirely out of step with what we expect of our members' conduct".