A man who was recorded killing buzzards has been sentenced after appearing in court.
(WARNING: viewers may find the following footage distressing)
John Orrey’s offending was first uncovered after a walker spotted a bird of prey in a crow cage trap in Kneeton, Rushcliffe, and immediately informed the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
RSPB officers later discovered a live buzzard inside the same trap – a species protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act – which was then released. However, following the discovery, a covert camera was set up to monitor the crow cage trap, which can be used for legitimate pest control purposes but requires any creatures not being targeted to be released.
Sixty-three-year-old Orrey was later filmed as he beat and killed the first of two birds when it flew into the same trap on Friday 8 January 2021.
He was caught on camera doing this to a second buzzard the following day, Saturday 9 January 2021.
On 14 January 2021, police attended Orrey’s home in Slacks Lane, Kneeton, and a search was conducted of outbuildings and surrounding land.
Feathers and a scythe were found and when officers searched the covert camera site, they found two dead stock doves used as bait inside the crow cage trap.
The birds, which are also protected, were later forensically examined and found to have been shot.
Orrey’s firearms licence was revoked and a number of weapons and ammunition were removed.
It is also reported he had exceeded his maximum amount of ammunition which his license allows.
Orrey, of Slacks Lane, Kneeton, pleaded guilty to possessing protected wild birds, two counts of killing a protected wild bird, using a trap to kill or take a wild bird as well as possessing an article capable of committing a wildlife offence after a scythe-type tool was discovered.
He also pleaded guilty to firearms offences, which included two counts of failing to comply with a firearms and shotgun certificate after the firearms and ammunition were found to be insecurely stored, as well as exceeding the amount of ammunition allowed by his certificate.
Appearing at Nottingham Magistrates Court on Friday 28 January 2022, he was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months.
Orrey was also fined £1000 for each killing of the buzzard and ordered to pay £180 in compensation.
Chief Inspector Heather Sutton, Nottinghamshire Police’s lead for rural crime, said: “This sentencing is extremely significant and I hope it demonstrates just how seriously Nottinghamshire Police takes reports of rural crime and how we will work together with our partners to bring anyone committing these horrific offences to justice.
“It is unacceptable that any wildlife should experience the kind of ordeal John Orrey subjected them to, let alone protected animals. Buzzards, as well as other protected animals, have this protection for a reason as it is important for the local rural areas and conservation that we continue to see them in their natural habitats. It is people like John Orrey who put this at risk and we are very pleased that he will now face this sentence, which we hope will allow him to recognise the seriousness of his actions and the impact it has had.”
Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Rushcliffe Rob Lawton said: “Rural areas and communities play a significant role in the makeup of the Rushcliffe area and local officers are very aware of the impact that such incidents can have.
“Rural crime is a priority in Rushcliffe, so in particular it is something we work hard to tackle and we will take robust action whenever a rural or wildlife crime is committed.
“What happened to these birds is horrific and this was a great effort from the officers, in conjunction with the RSPB, to investigate this, gather evidence and bring Orrey to justice.
“These actions won’t be tolerated in our area and we hope this sentence serves as a warning that it won’t be long before the joint forces of the police and partners will be knocking on the doors of anyone suspected of such crimes.”
Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “When I first saw the footage I was shocked and sickened. The birds were subject to a repeated torrent of blows before being thrown into the boot of a vehicle.
“Better regulation is needed, and the RSPB has repeatedly asked for the conditions on cage traps to be tightened.
“The UK Government must follow the recommendations of the recent UN assessment, which calls for stronger regulation of the shooting industry and to allow for the removal of licences to use these traps.”