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High-profile stalker convicted for poaching

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.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit’s newly appointed poaching policy officer Gareth Cole told Shooting Times that 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 lawabiding stalkers realise just how much this is going on.”

The rest of this article appears in 7th October issue of Shooting Times.

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