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In what is thought to be one of the first cases of its kind, a professional stalker has been convicted for selling stalking on land over which he does not have shooting rights.

A former chairman of the UK Association of Professional Deer Managers, Derek Stocker, from Somerset, was convicted of false representation under the 2006 Fraud Act and of poaching two deer under the 1991 Deer Act at Sudbury Magistrates? Court on 22 September.

On 22 August 2008, Mr Stocker, of UK Deer Management Services, took out three paying clients to shoot muntjac in Stanstead Great Wood at Kentwell Hall estate, in Long Melford, Suffolk.

Local gamekeepers Roger Jones and Peter Jagger raised the alarm when they heard rifle shots being fired in the woods.

Two carcases were then found in the back of Mr Stocker?s pick-up by Suffolk police.

Mr Stocker was fined £100, plus £300 compensation to Colin Foster, who holds the stalking lease together with Tim Davies.

He was also given a two-year conditional discharge, which was suspended for 28 days.

Mr Stocker, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, now plans to appeal the conviction.

He declined to comment to Shooting Times magazine.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit?s newly appointed poaching policy officer, Gareth Cole, commented this case highlights the small, underground minority of outwardly professional and highly-trained stalkers who take out paying clients on to land where they have no written authority.

?These unscrupulous stalkers bring the whole sport and profession into disrepute. This is not the old-fashioned poacher taking a few pheasants for the family pot – these are [ostensibly] upstanding deer managers. I do not think law abiding stalkers realise just how much this is going on.?

Professional stalker, Jan Andrews, said this case should serve as a wake-up call to stalkers with leases: ?If possible, make sure you hold the exclusive rights on your stalking ground and the lease conditions are properly followed. That way each stalker?s boundary is clear.?

Jan Andrews added that some stalkers have a tendency to stretch land boundaries, which can cause disputes.

She said: ?Shooting a deer that runs on to a neighbour?s land or shooting on the wrong side of a boundary fence all constitutes poaching. All stalkers need to adhere to what is in their lease and not break the law.?

She added: ?If a lease was previously held by more than one person, it is advisable to notify the previous joint lessee by recorded mail that the lease conditions have changed and that the person is no longer on the lease.?

John Thornley OBE, co-author of Deer: Law and Liabilities, believes this is the first time a case like this has appeared in court.

?This case brings to the fore a number of risks and liabilities within the deer management world,? said Mr Thornley.

?It is not good enough to have a rough idea of where you can shoot. I would encourage anyone with stalking ground to ensure that they have at least discussed the terms of any verbal agreement with the owner and checked the relevant map for boundary details.?

The National Gamekeepers? Organisation (NGO) has suspended Mr Stocker?s membership until the outcome of the appeal is known and he has resigned from the NGO Deer Branch Committee.

Mr Stocker has also been suspended as an assessor at BASC?s deer assessment centre. This suspension will remain in place until his appeal is concluded.

Let us know what you think about this!

  • P Smith

    it just goes to show that “self regulation” within the deer stalking community is flawed. This guy WAS an assesor for BASC’s Deer management qualifications! what a joke. Bring in real qualifications for real Deer Managers.

  • Colin Foster

    Derek Trevor Stocker appeal against conviction was dimissed at Ipswich Crown Court on 23rd September 2010,Count 1: Killing, taking or injuring deer under the 1981 Deer act, Count 2: Under the 1982 fraud act,to dishonestly make false representation to make gain for self or cause loss to others 2 years conditional discharge, to pay £900 towards the cost of prosecution, in addition to the original fines and cost of £800 including compensation.

  • Tam Smith

    if your caught on ground without permition of the landowner its your own fault ,i always ask for written permition which i renew periodically and it states that if permition is no longer permited i must be informed in writing from the landowner