A SICKO has become the first person in Scotland to be convicted of killing multiple birds of prey in a landmark case.
Bird fancier Barry Nicolle, 67, used banned poisons to kill five red kites and ten others close to his home near Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, in an attempt to protect his own private exotic collection.
A source close to the investigation said: “Nicolle’s actions were dangerous and as well as killing birds the poison he used could easily have killed a small child and caused an adult serious harm.
“He set traps and laid poison baits with a very toxic poison.
“After several birds were found dead in the area near Nicolle’s home an investigation was launched to find the source of the poison. Some of the dead kites were found to have ingested a mandarin duck.
“This makes him the first serial killer of birds of prey to be convicted in Scotland.”
Not guilty pleas to a further 14 charges including one that Nicolle “did repeatedly” lay poison bait that was discovered in a nearby primary school were accepted.
Sheriff Kevin McCallum KC deferred sentencing for background reports but told the first offender that he would consider “all options” available to him.
The sheriff said: “Since your arrest police have informed the court that no other birds have been found dead in the same circumstances.
“Your cause for doing this was to protect your own stock from rooks, crows and rats.
“The fact remains that there were repeated episodes of dosing of poison. Some carcasses were discovered outside your property laced with poison.”
Nicolle, who will be sentenced next month, refused to comment outside the court.
Wildlife officer, PC John Cowan, said: “Nicolle had been killing protected birds over a number of years.
“Not only was there a risk to the rural environment, but also to members of the public handling poisoned birds, some of which were found near a primary school.
“Police Scotland and the partners we work with treat all types of wildlife crime very seriously and this conviction is a strong message that those who poison wild and protected birds will be robustly investigated.
“I would also like to thank the public who provided information that assisted our inquiries. This is vital to our work in combatting wildlife crime.”
Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s head of investigations, said: “We welcome today’s conviction of Mr Nicolle for multiple offences linked to the illegal poisoning of red kites and rooks around the village of Springholm.
“As well as his killing of multiple protected birds, his indiscriminate use of poisons risked harming other wildlife, pets and local people.”
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