A retired gamekeeper has been convicted of poisoning 10 buzzards and a sparrowhawk, unlawful possession of nine dead buzzards and illegal storage of banned pesticides

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Allen Lambert (65), who worked as a gamekeeper at the Stody Estate in Norfolk for 24 years, was found guilty at Norwich Magistrate’s Court on 1 October.

He pleaded guilty to charges of storing banned pesticides and being in unlawful possession of dead buzzards, but denied charges of poisoning 10 buzzards and a sparrowhawk. Following the verdict, District Judge Peter Veits adjourned the case for sentencing on 6 November.

Judge Veits also criticised the apparent “complete lack of control over poisons on the estate” and warned that Mr Lambert’s former employers “might have been in the dock themselves for some of these offences involving poison on their property.”

Gamekeeping organisations, the police and conservation groups have all condemned the poisonings.

A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) commented: “The NGO stands for gamekeeping within the law and we condemn these actions utterly. 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 gamekeeping, which does so much for the countryside and its wildlife. The gamekeeping profession genuinely deplores those very, very few among their number who break the law. They are the pariahs of the modern keepering world, losing the right to call themselves gamekeepers in the eyes of their peers.”

BASC chairman Alan Jarret also spoke out strongly against the poisonings, saying: “Every law-abiding person involved in game management and shooting will denounce anyone involved. In this case the law has run its course and justice has been served. Shooting is rightly proud of its excellent contribution to conservation. That record should not be tarnished by the actions of a few who believe they can flout the law.”

National Wildlife Crime Unit officer Alan Roberts 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 gamekeeping bodies and the RSPB to stamp this sort of behaviour out. We will continue to seek out and prosecute anyone who follows Allen Lambert’s style of predator control.”

Speaking after the hearing, Bob Elliot, head of the RSPB’s investigations unit, whose evidence was used in the case along with data submitted by the British Trust for Ornithology, called on the Government to introduce stricter penalties for illegal possession of pesticides.