Man sentenced after birds of prey found dead in West Suffolk

A man has been given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to offences in relation to the discovery of five goshawks that were found dead in the west of the county, as well as pleading guilty to a number of other wildlife and firearms offences.

The five birds of prey were found on Monday 16 January, having been left in a parking area just off from the B1106 in Kings Forest, near Wordwell. X-rays were undertaken which showed all five birds had suffered injuries from multiple pieces of shot.

Today, Thursday 29 June, Francis Addison, 72, from South Park, Weeting, appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court where he pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of a dead schedule 1 wild bird (goshawk); one count of killing a non-schedule 1 wild bird (wood pigeon); one count of use of an animal trap in circumstance for which it is not approved; two counts of possession of an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence, namely two air rifles and six animal traps; six counts of failing to comply with the conditions of a firearm certificate; and four counts of failing to comply with the condition of a shotgun certificate.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £1,080 compensation, £105 in costs and a £154 victim surcharge.

Following Addison’s sentencing, Sergeant Brian Calver of Suffolk Constabulary’s Rural and Wildlife Crime team said: This is a particularly disturbing case. Bird of prey crime is a national wildlife crime priority, which is taken very seriously by police. We will leave no stone unturned in pursuing criminals that cause deliberate harm to wildlife.

“This incident has had a significant impact on the Goshawk population in the Brecks and in particular their ability to expand their territory.

“As well as possessing dead schedule 1 birds, Addison has shown a complete disregard for the security of his guns, which is equally concerning and is something that was noted in the court.

“We welcome today’s outcome and I hope the sentence imposed sends a strong message to others that are involved in this type of criminality. We’ll continue to work closely with partners to ensure such crimes become a thing of the past.”

Full post-mortem examinations were carried out on all five birds as part of the investigation, funded via the Forensic Analysis Fund.

These were conducted to help prove how the birds were killed and whether they were from the same broods.

Mark Thomas, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Head of Investigations UK, said: “Goshawks are an exhilarating apex predator, so it was both shocking and appalling to see images of the five shot birds discarded in a forest car park.

“We applaud the efforts and professionalism of Suffolk police and the CPS in deploying key forensic techniques that have led to court charges in this case.”

Sally Robinson, a District Crown Prosecutor from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Despite the successful outcome in this case, often raptor persecution is going undetected and is impacting on the population of various species.

“The CPS work closely alongside our partners to bring those who cause harm to wildlife to justice, and we will seek to prosecute offenders when our legal tests are met.”