NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Gamekeeper George Mutch guilty of killing rare bird

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Media captionHidden camera footage was used to catch Mutch in the act

A gamekeeper has been found guilty of killing a rare bird and setting traps illegally to capture two others on an Aberdeenshire estate.

George Mutch, 48, of Kildrummy, was accused of recklessly killing or injuring a goshawk and illegally taking away another goshawk and a buzzard in 2012.

Mutch was found guilty of four charges at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Noel McPartlin said he would consider a custodial sentence.

It is one of the first times in Scotland that hidden camera footage, obtained by the RSPB, had been used in a case of this kind.

Mutch will be sentenced next month.

Image copyright Newsline Media
Image caption George Mutch was found guilty at Aberdeen Sheriff Court

After the case, Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, said: "We welcome the conviction of George Mutch.

"This long-running case, informed by evidence from RSPB Scotland staff, has finally delivered some justice."

A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), which has now banned Mutch, said they would not condone anyone taking the law into their own hands.

But he said the SGA believed it was wrong for individuals "from one particular profession" to be under surveillance in their place of work without their knowledge.

The spokesman added: "It is not right for Scottish government to deny people whose livelihoods come under pressure, due to the activity of certain species or animals, recourse to a legal solution to solve that conflict."

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